Global Prevalence and Impact of Hostility, Discrimination, and Harassment in the Cardiology Workplace

ARTICLE: Global Prevalence and Impact of Hostility, Discrimination, and Harassment in the Cardiology Workplace

AUTHORS: Garima Sharma, Pamela S. Douglas, Sharonne N. Hayes, Roxana Mehran, Anne Rzeszut, Robert A. Harrington, Athena Poppas, Mary Norine Walsh, Toniya Singh, RannaParekh, Roger S. Blumenthal, Laxmi S. Mehta

JOURNAL: J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021 May 18;77(19): 2398-2409. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2021.03.301.


Background: Discrimination and emotional and sexual harassment create a hostile work environment (HWE). The global prevalence of HWE in cardiology is unknown, as is its impact.

Objectives: This study sought to evaluate emotional harassment, discrimination, and sexual harassment experienced by cardiologists and its impact on professional satisfaction and patient interactions worldwide.

Methods: The American College of Cardiology surveyed cardiologists from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, the European Union, the Middle East, Oceana, and North, Central, and South America. Demographics, practice information, and HWE were tabulated and compared, and their impact was assessed. The p values were calculated using the chi-square, Fisher exact, and Mann-Whitney U tests. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis determined the association of characteristics with HWE and its subtypes.

Results: Of 5,931 cardiologists (77% men; 23% women), 44% reported HWE. Higher rates were found among women (68% vs. 37%; odds ratio [OR]: 3.58 vs. men), Blacks (53% vs. 43%; OR: 1.46 vs. Whites), and North Americans (54% vs. 38%; OR: 1.90 vs. South Americans). Components of HWE included emotional harassment (29%; n = 1,743), discrimination (30%; n = 1,750), and sexual harassment (4%; n = 221), and they were more prevalent among women: emotional harassment (43% vs. 26%), discrimination (56% vs. 22%), and sexual harassment (12% vs. 1%). Gender was the most frequent cause of discrimination (44%), followed by age (37%), race (24%), religion (15%), and sexual orientation (5%). HWE adversely affected professional activities with colleagues (75%) and patients (53%). Multivariate analysis showed that women (OR: 3.39; 95% confidence interval: 2.97 to 3.86; p < 0.001) and cardiologists early in their career (OR: 1.27; 95% confidence interval: 1.14 to 1.43; p < 0.001) had the highest odds of experiencing HWE.

Conclusions: There is a high global prevalence of HWE in cardiology, including discrimination, emotional harassment, and sexual harassment. HWE has an adverse effect on professional and patient interactions, thus confirming concerns about well-being and optimizing patient care. Institutions and practices should prioritize combating HWE.

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