Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 21–25 | Cite as

Prevalence of and Preparedness to Address Inappropriate Sexual Behavior from Patients During Psychiatry Training: a Pilot Study

  • Sarah Michael
  • Xinlin Chen
  • Elizabeth Raymond
  • Rebecca CapassoEmail author
In Brief Report



Mental health providers experience inappropriate sexual behavior from patients. It is unclear if training programs adequately prepare trainees to respond to such behaviors. Additionally, trainees may not seek support and guidance from supervisors after an incident. This is an exploratory study to document the prevalence of and assess the preparedness of trainees to deal with inappropriate sexual behavior.


A survey was administered to 58 psychiatry residents and 14 psychology interns at the NYU School of Medicine. A total of 22 questions were asked regarding participants’ experiences with inappropriate sexual behavior, including prevalence of, and preparedness during, and support received after the behavior.


Of those who completed the survey, 89% of respondents had experienced inappropriate sexual behavior. Seventy percent said they had no training in responding to inappropriate sexual behavior, and 95% wanted more training. A minority of respondents consistently sought support after these events, and of those who did, only 60% of trainees did so with a supervisor.


Experiences involving inappropriate sexual behavior are prevalent among the mental health trainees surveyed, but most trainees did not feel that they received adequate training in preparation for or supervision after their experiences. Creating training or establishing protocols to respond to inappropriate sexual behavior may help trainees feel more capable and safer. Further studies are needed to understand inappropriate sexual behavior’s impact on trainees and patient care, as well as to assess the efficacy of training and protocols developed to manage inappropriate sexual behavior.


Inappropriate sexual behavior Resident training 


Compliance with ethical standards

NYU IRB exemption attained.

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Bellevue Hospital CenterNew YorkUSA

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