Reasons for harassment vary, but include harrassment in response to making comments about the COVID-19 pandemic
By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, June 22, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Physicians and biomedical scientists experience high levels of harassment online, according to a research letter published online June 14 in JAMA Network Open.
Regina Royan, M.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues examined online harassment of physicians and scientists during the pandemic. The analysis included 359 survey responses from physicians, biomedical scientists, and trainees.
The researchers found that two-thirds of respondents reported harassment on social media. Harassment stemmed from advocacy (88 percent), gender (45 percent), race or ethnicity (27 percent), sexual orientation (13 percent), disability (6 percent), and other self-described reasons (31 percent). Just under two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) reported harassment related to comments made about the COVID-19 pandemic, and 18 percent reported their private information had been shared (i.e., doxxing).
“Physicians and biomedical scientists experience high levels of harassment online, a problem that appears to have been worse during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors write. “Social media plays a role in disseminating medical and scientific knowledge to the public; however, high levels of reported harassment may lead more physicians and scientists to limit the way they use social media, thus leaving propagation of misinformation unchecked by those most qualified to combat it.”
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