Study highlights workplace harassment prevalence and impact on health

MUNCIE, Ind.-- During a time it seems more and more people are shedding a light on harassment, Ball State University is highlighting a study into workplace harassment in the U.S.

In 2014, researchers based their report on an analysis of more than 17,500 people who participated in the 2010 National Health Interview, and looked at the prevalence of workplace harassment and the impact on health.

"We found that consistently almost 10 percent of adult Americans complain of being harassed every year," said Jagdish Khubchandani, an associate professor of community health at Ball State University and one of the study's authors.

Researchers said they found victims of workplace harassment were more likely to be female, obese, multiracial and divorced or separated.

"It's mostly women in low income jobs or those who have more than one job, mostly in the government sector. That was a shocking finding of the study," Khubchandani said.

The study found over a 12-month period, about 8 percent of respondents said they were threatened, bullied or harassed in the workplace.

"We also found you know once someone complains of harassment you see a change in their behaviors, like health behavior changes. Suddenly they gain weight, they start smoking, they sleep less, many of them are complaining that they could not go to the office because of chronic sickness," Khubchandani said.

The professor said employers need to implement measures to help prevent the issue.

"We are hoping the results will show that harassment is expensive, troublesome and complex situation and it should be prevented," Khubchandani said.

Next, he said he wants to look at control on the job site and supervisor support related to harassment.