Recognizing and Labeling Sex-based and Sexual Harassment in the Health Care Workplace Academic Article uri icon


  • To explore how registered nurses (RNs) recognized and labeled incidents of sex-based and sexual harassment in the Australian health care workplace.Qualitative, using 16 unstructured interviews with registered nurses in Australia.Verbatim transcripts were analyzed largely by inductive analysis. Key categories were identified as themes or concepts for analysis.RNs reported several indicators of sexual harassment, including the invasion of space, confirmation from others, lack of respect, the deliberate nature of the behavior, perceived power or control, overly friendly behavior, and a sexualized workplace. RNs rarely labeled harassing behaviors as sex-based or sexual harassment.Many forces reduce the likelihood that RNs will correctly recognize and label unwelcome sexualized behavior as sexual harassment. Recognition is associated with a variety of workplace behaviors that sometimes precede harassment. Implications for the health care workplace are discussed.

publication date

  • December 2000