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Journal of Dental Hygiene








Purpose: The "#MeToo" movement has increased awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace and its detrimental effects on the work environment. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of sexual harassment in a convenience sample of dental hygienists in the state of Virginia (VA).

Methods: A cross-sectional research design was used to determine the experiences of VA dental hygienists with sexual harassment in the workplace occurring over the previous twenty-four months. The revised Sexual Experiences Questionnaire (SEQ-W) measured three constructs: gender harassment, unwanted sexual attention, and sexual coercion and was administered electronically to a convenience sample of 238 dental hygienists attending a continuing education conference. Chi-square was used to determine significant associations between survey scores and demographics.

Results: A total of 161 dental hygienists completed the survey (n=161) for a response rate of 68%. A little more than one-quarter of the respondents (27%) reported at least one experience of sexual harassment in the previous 24 months. Of the three constructs measured, 27.3% of participants reported gender harassment, 18.6% unwanted sexual attention, and 6.8% sexual coercion. The most commonly reported items were being told offensive sexual jokes or stories (21%) and hearing someone make crude and offensive sexual remarks (18%). A definition of sexual harassment was provided and participants were asked, "During your career as a dental hygienist, have you experienced sexual harassment?" to which 24.2% (n=39) responded yes.

Conclusion: Sexual harassment is a contemporary problem in dental hygiene employment settings in the state of Virginia. Effective training and policies in sexual harassment is needed to prevent these behaviors from occurring in the workplace.


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Original Publication Citation

Hunt, A. W., Bradshaw, B. T., & Tolle, S. L. (2020). Sexual harassment issues among Virginia dental hygienists. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 94(3), 37-47.