lancet-header
Preprints with The Lancet is part of SSRN´s First Look, a place where journals and other research experts identify content of interest prior to publication. These preprint papers are not peer-reviewed and are posted here as part of a 12-month trial. Authors have either opted in at submission to The Lancet family of journals to post their preprints on Preprints with The Lancet, or submitted directly via SSRN. The usual SSRN checks and a Lancet-specific check for appropriateness and transparency have been applied. These papers should not be used for clinical decision making or reporting of research to a lay audience without indicating that this is preliminary research that has not been peer-reviewed. For more information see the Comment published in The Lancet, or visit The Lancet´s FAQ page, and for any feedback please contact preprints@lancet.com

The Impact of Verbal Abuse, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault at Work: An Investigation into the Health of Flight Attendants in the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study

31 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018

See all articles by Sara Gale

Sara Gale

Harvard University - Department of Environmental Health

Irina Mordukhovich

Harvard University - Department of Environmental Health

Sami Newlan

Harvard University - Department of Epidemiology

Eileen McNeely

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health

More...

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Sexual harassment and other types of workplace abuse are frequently experienced by workers worldwide and are related to adverse mental health outcomes and injuries. Flight attendants are an understudied occupational group and are susceptible to experiencing harassment due to working in a feminized, client-facing occupation with few protections or sanctioned responses against aggressive behaviors. In our study, we investigated the relationship between workplace verbal abuse, sexual harassment or sexual assault and health outcomes in a cohort of cabin crew. We also aimed to characterize perpetrator profiles according to type of abuse.

METHODS: Among 4,459 participants from the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study, we examined associations between episodes of workplace harassment or abuse in the past year (overall and by frequency of episodes) and a range of health outcomes using multivariate logistic regression.

FINDINGS: We report that exposures to verbal abuse, sexual harassment and sexual assault are common among cabin crew, with rates of 63%, 26% and 2%, respectively, in the past year alone. Workplace abuse was associated with depression, sleep disturbances, and musculoskeletal injuries among male and female cabin crew, with a trend towards increasing odds ratios (ORs) given a higher frequency of events. For example, sexual harassment was related to an overall increased odds for depression (OR=1.91, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.51-2.30), which increased in a dose response-like manner among women who reported harassment once (OR=1.44, 95% CI: 0.93-1.95), 2-3 times (OR=1.83, 95% CI: 1.29-2.38), and 4 or more times (OR=4.12, 95% CI: 3.18-5.06). We found that passengers were the primary perpetrators of all types of abuse.

INTERPRETATION: Our study is the first to comprehensively characterize sexual harassment and its relation to health in a largely female customer-facing workforce. Future research should track findings longitudinally and should compare results across professions.

Funding: Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

Declaration of Interest: The authors have no conflicts on interest to declare.

Ethical Approval: This research was approved the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Institutional Review Board. All participants provided their written informed consent prior to enrollment in the study.

Suggested Citation

Gale, Sara and Mordukhovich, Irina and Newlan, Sami and McNeely, Eileen, The Impact of Verbal Abuse, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault at Work: An Investigation into the Health of Flight Attendants in the Harvard Flight Attendant Health Study (August 13, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3234856

Sara Gale

Harvard University - Department of Environmental Health

401 Park Dr
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Irina Mordukhovich (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Environmental Health ( email )

401 Park Dr
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Sami Newlan

Harvard University - Department of Epidemiology

655 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Eileen McNeely

Harvard University - T.H. Chan School of Public Health ( email )

677 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA MA 02115
United States

Click here to go to TheLancet.com

Go to TheLancet.com

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
166
Downloads
34