2009 Volume 51 Issue 4 Pages 314-322
Objectives: To determine the one year prevalence of workplace abuse and sexual harassment and to determine the extent of their associations with symptoms of depression. Methods: A total of 387 female faculty and staff from colleges in Awassa, Ethiopia completed a self-administered questionnaire which collected information about relationships, mood and feelings, thoughts and satisfaction concerning the workplace, and experiences with sexual harassment. Symptoms of depression were evaluated using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Logistic regression procedures were employed to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results: The 12 mo prevalence of either workplace abuse or sexual harassment was 86.3%; with 39.5% reporting workplace abuse only, 4.1% of them reporting sexual harassment only, and 42.6% reporting experiences of both sexual harassment and workplace abuse. Overall, the mean depression score for this cohort was 3.7 (standard deviation 4.2, range 0-19), and 9.3% of the cohort were identified as having moderate or moderately severe depression. The proportion of participants with depression were statistically significantly elevated in relation to reported experience of workplace abuse and sexual harassment (p=0.001). Compared with women reporting no experience with workplace abuse or sexual harassment, those who reported experiencing both workplace abuse and sexual harassment had an 8.00 fold increased risk of depression (OR=8.00, 95% CI:1.05-60.85). Inferences from this analysis are limited by our relatively small sample size as reflected by the wide 95% CI. Conclusions: Workplace abuse and sexual harassment are highly prevalent, and are positively correlated with symptoms of depression among college female faculty and staff in Awassa, Ethiopia. Future policies should include a combination of education, health, and public policy initiatives that clearly outline the problem and consequences of workplace abuse and sexual harassment in educational settings.
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