Preventing and responding to complaints of sexual harassment in an academic health center: a 10-year review from the Medical University of South Carolina

Acad Med. 2010 Apr;85(4):721-7. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181d27fd0.


There is a high incidence of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in academic health center (AHC) settings according to multiple surveys of medical students. Therefore, it is incumbent on AHCs to develop programs both to educate faculty, residents, and students and to handle complaints of possible episodes of sexual harassment or gender discrimination. Despite the apparent high prevalence of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and the importance of handling complaints of gender discrimination and sexual harassment in a prompt, consistent, and rational manner, there are few descriptions of programs that address those concerns in AHCs.Herein, the authors describe their experiences in dealing with complaints of sexual harassment and gender discrimination for a 10-year period of time (late 1997 to early 2007) at the Medical University of South Carolina, through an Office of Gender Equity. They describe their complaint process, components of their prevention training, and the outcomes of 115 complaints. Key elements of their policies are highlighted. The authors offer an approach that could serve as a model for other AHCs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Models, Educational*
  • Program Evaluation / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexual Harassment / prevention & control*
  • Sexual Harassment / statistics & numerical data
  • South Carolina / epidemiology