Journal Article Annotations
2018, 4th Quarter
Annotations by Olusola Segun, MD
Type of study: Prospective cohort study to investigate the association of history of sexual harassment and sexual assault with blood pressure, mood, anxiety, and sleep among midlife women.
The finding: Sexual harassment and sexual assault have implications for women’s health.
Strength and weaknesses: This article brings to light the prevalence of sexual harassment and/or assault in the work place as this is a topic that is not only understudied but also under reported. It also attempts to show correlation of sexual harassment and or assault with negative medical as well as psychological consequences that affect the quality of life of middle-aged women in the community.
Some of the limitations of the study include the lack of screening for PTSD, as this diagnosis would likely correlate with increased autonomic stimulation, which in turn would explain the physiological sequelae of hypertension, tachycardia and disturbance in sleep. There also appears to be a selection bias as 70 percent of all participants where “white” and 30 percent “not white.” Even with the breakdown it would be important to further categorize the “non-white” (e.g., African-American, Hispanic, Asian) to better represent the community. Recall bias may also be a factor to consider as participants were asked to remember incidents that happened some time ago. Also, all symptoms were measured by surveys and not by structured diagnostic interview by a healthcare professional. The data analysis for sexual harassment in relation to systolic and diastolic blood pressure, in addition to anxiety, all show P value of >0.5 making it statistically not relevant. The same seems to apply for sexual assault and SBP, DBP show P value of >0.5 making it statistically not relevant. The power of the study is very small.
Relevance: Future studies should include a larger cohort of women which is more representative of the society to foster initiatives that will effectively target the community in which we live. Furthermore, future efforts to improve women’s health should include structured diagnostic interviews with emphasis on sexual harassment and assault and the potential sequelae.