World Medical Association adopts statement on bullying and harassment within the profession

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 1, January, February 2018, page(s) 60 Pulsimeter

The World Medical Association (WMA) Statement on Bullying and Harassment within the Profession[1] was adopted at the WMA’s 68th General Assembly.

Medical student mistreatment ranges from verbal harassment and public humiliation to threats of limiting future career opportunities. In a national survey conducted by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada in 2017, 59.6% of medical students in their final year reported being personally mistreated.[2] In 2016 the rate was 53%; in 2015 it was 50.6%.[3] Of students reporting mistreatment, 89.6% report mistreatment by faculty and 34.1% by residents.[3]

As evidenced in the WMA’s statement, mistreatment within the profession is also an issue internationally. Among US medical students, 42% reported having experienced harassment and 84% experienced belittlement during medical school.[4] These students were significantly more likely to be stressed, depressed, and suicidal; to drink alcohol or binge drink; and were significantly less likely to be glad they trained to become a doctor.[4]

Most Canadian medical students do not file a report when they experience instances of mistreatment. More than 80% of students who experienced mistreatment stated they had not reported it to their medical school or a designated faculty member.[3] Only 35.9% of students were satisfied with the outcome of having reported instances of mistreatment.[3]

Reasons cited by students for not reporting mistreatment included that “the incident did not seem important enough to report” (64.7%), “I did not think anything would be done about it” (47.1%), and “fear of reprisal” (35.3%).[3]

References Top

1.    World Medical Association. WMA statement on bullying and harassment within the profession. Last updated 14 October 2017. www.wma.net/policies-post/wma-statement-on-bullying-and-harassment-within-the-profession.
2.    The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada. Graduation questionnaire, national report 2017. Accessed 10 January 2018. https://afmc.ca/sites/default/files/documents/en/Publications/2017_GQ_National_Report_en.pdf.
3.    The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada. Graduation questionnaire, national report 2016. Accessed 10 January 2018. https://afmc.ca/sites/default/files/documents/en/Publications/2016_GQ_National_Report_en.pdf.
4.    Frank E, Carrera JS, Stratton T, et al. Experiences of belittlement and harassment and their correlates among medical students in the United States: longitudinal survey. BMJ 2006;doi:10.1136/bmj.38924.722037.7C.

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