64% of disabled physicians report mistreatment from patients, co-workers

Physicians with a disability are significantly more likely to report mistreatment from patients and co-workers, according to a study published in the October edition of Health Affairs

Researchers affiliated with the Association of American Medical Colleges, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and the University of Texas in Austin surveyed 5,851 practicing physicians from the Association of American Medical Colleges' national sample. 

Of the 3.1 percent of respondents who self-identified as disabled, 64 percent said that in the last 12 months, they had experienced at least one form of mistreatment — physical harm or threats of physical harm, unwanted sexual advances or offensive comments regarding the respondent’s gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disability or personal beliefs — from patients or co-workers. 

Other statistics from the study: 

  • Nearly 40 percent of disabled physicians report unwanted sexual advances from patients, compared to 16.4 percent of physicians who are not disabled. 
  • Nearly 40 percent of disabled physicians report being threatened with physical harm, compared to 22.6 percent of physicians who are not disabled. 
  • More than 26 percent of disabled physicians have been physically harmed by patients, compared to 5.3 percent of physicians who are not disabled. 
  • Nearly 29 percent of disabled physicians report hearing offensive remarks related to a disability from patients and co-workers. Almost 4 percent of physicians who are not disabled report the same from patients, and 3.5 percent report these remarks from co-workers. 
  • Disabled physicians were 12 percent more likely than their peers who are not disabled to report racist remarks from patients, and 16.6 percent more likely to report them from co-workers.

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