Purpose: To determine the prevalence and details of sexual harassment of female nurses by patients and nurses' reactions in Japanese hospitals.
Methods: A research survey with a self-administered questionnaire was conducted. Questionnaires were distributed to hospital nurses, and 473 of 600 (78.8%) questionnaires were returned. A content analysis was done with descriptive data from the questionnaires.
Findings: The proportion of female nurses who have ever been sexually harassed by patients was 55.8%. Sexual harassment was prevalent in the hospital environment and some details were serious. Conversely, nurses tended to react passively and moderately and, in many cases, they did not attempt to stop the patients. Relatively few incidents were reported to the appropriate supervisors.
Conclusions: This sample of Japanese hospital nurses were at high risk for sexual harassment, and administrators tended to underestimate the problem. No effective policies to combat this situation have yet been established in Japanese hospitals.