Intimidation and Sexual Harassment during Plastic Surgery Training in the United States

Johanna P. D'Agostino, Kavita T. Vakharia, Sheina Bawa, Sanja Sljivic, Noel Natoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Attending physicians, peers, other providers, and patients are sources of intellectual growth, but may also be a source of abuse and harassment. Published international studies have found that harassment within residency training is widespread but there is little data regarding plastic surgery training. The authors sought to explore the incidence of harassment experienced by plastic surgery residents currently enrolled in US integrated and independent programs. Methods: After an IRB-approved exemption was obtained, an anonymous internet-based survey was distributed via email to all plastic and reconstructive surgery residency programs. The survey was comprised of 23 questions that focused on personal experience or knowledge of other colleagues who had encountered abuse and harassment during their training. Responses were collected during a 60-day period. The response rate was 16%. Results: A total of 173 individuals completed the survey. Regarding harassment experienced by the respondents, 39.2% reported verbal abuse, 19.9% experienced sexual harassment, and 3.6% reported being physically abused during their training. Of those individuals who were sexually harassed, 72.7% were females. In many of the cases (64.5%), the instigator was a supervising physician. Most respondents did not feel comfortable reporting the abuse (74.19%). Conclusions: Abuse and sexual harassment rates among active plastic and reconstructive surgery residents in the United States are high and attention should be brought to this important issue. Further studies should be conducted to assess the extent of abuse so that it can lead to implementation of programs that provide accountability, improved support, counseling strategies, and foster appropriate professional development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2493
JournalPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery - Global Open
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery


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