Psychosocial study environment characteristics associated with exposure to sexual harassment at a large public university in southern Sweden: a cross-sectional study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Universities can be understood as work-like environments for students, with similar risks and expectations regarding psychosocial environment. Limited research has examined this study environment from a Demand-Control-Support perspective with regard to sexual harassment. Understanding this environment is key to designing protective measures. This study aimed to examine the association between individual and psychosocial study environment characteristics and exposure to sexual harassment among students at Lund University, Sweden.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study utilised data from an online survey conducted among students. Questions on background characteristics, exposure to sexual harassment while at university and psychosocial study environment as measured by a Demand-Control-Support-instrument were used. Bivariate, and multivariable logistic regressions were used, together with Population Attributable Fractions (PAF), and synergy indexes (SI).

RESULTS: High demands and low control were independently associated with higher odds of being exposed to sexual harassment among both females and males (OR 1.41, OR 1.26 and OR 1.55, OR1.34, respectively). When adjusting for background characteristics, high study strain (combination of high demands and low control) was associated with exposure to sexual harassment among both female and male respondents (aOR 1.67 and 1.98 respectively) and could account for PAF of 14% and 15% of study environment sexual harassment for females and males, respectively. Low lecturer support was associated with higher odds for sexual harassment among females (aOR 1.19) but not males. Little evidence was found for a buffering effect of student support on high strain and sexual harassment (SI 0.7).

CONCLUSION: Working to reduce situations of high strain study environments could be an effective strategy for reducing sexual harassment in university settings. Improving support from lecturers could also modify this relationship, but more research is required to identify causal pathways underlying this result.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalGlobal Health Action
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health

Free keywords

  • Humans
  • Male
  • Female
  • Sexual Harassment/psychology
  • Universities
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Sweden
  • Students/psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

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