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Workplace Sexual Harassment Linked to Higher Risk of Cardiometabolic Diseases: Daily Dose

Workplace Sexual Harassment Linked to Higher Risk of Cardiometabolic Diseases: Daily Dose / Image Credit: ©New Africa/AdobeStock
©New Africa/AdobeStock

Patient Care brings primary care clinicians a lot of medical news every day—it’s easy to miss an important study. The Daily Dose provides a concise summary of one of the website's leading stories you may not have seen.

Last week, we reported on findings from a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology that examined the prospective association of workplace sexual harassment and risk of cardiometabolic diseases.

The study

Researchers tracked the cardiometabolic outcomes of 88 904 adults in Swedin (52% women; mean age, 43.2 years) aged 16 to 64 years who participated in the Swedish Work Environment Survey from 1995 to 2015 and who were free from cardiometabolic diseases at baseline. They collected 989 512 person-years of data on the study population, and the mean follow-up was 11 years.

Participants were given a brief definition of sexual harassment and then asked 2 questionnaire items related to workplace sexual harassment: (1) whether they were subjected to sexual harassment from superiors or fellow workers, or (2) if they experienced sexual harassment from other individuals, such as patients, clients, passengers, or students. The response format was a 7-point Likert-type scale ranging from not at all during the previous 12 months to every day.

The findings

At follow-up, 4.7% (n=4218) of the cohort were diagnosed with CVD at a rate of 4.3 cases per 1000 person-years, and 4% (n=3624) were diagnosed with T2D at a rate of 3.6 cases per 1000 person-years.

In the fully adjusted analysis, workplace sexual harassment was associated with an increased incidence of CVD (HR 1.25, 95% CI 1.03-1.51) and an even greater increased incidence of T2D (HR 1.45, 95% CI 1.21-1.73). Excess risk of CVD was observed among participants who were exposed to sexual harassment by superiors or their fellow workers (HR 1.57, 95% CI 1.15-2.15), but the risk when looking at sexual harassment from other individuals did not meet statistical significance (HR 1.16, 95% CI 0.93-1.45). The risk for T2D persisted whether it was by superiors and coworkers (HR 1.85, 95% CI 1.39-2.46) or other persons (HR 1.39, 95% CI 1.13-1.7).

Authors' comment

"This study supports prospective association between workplace sexual harassment and increased risk of cardiometabolic diseases...Given the importance of this association from the public health point of view, future research is warranted to clarify the causality and mechanisms behind these associations considering the severity of sexual harassment at workplace."

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