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Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(4):749-756. doi:10.7150/ijbs.28144

Research Paper

Prevalence of sexual harassment of nurses and nursing students in China: a meta-analysis of observational studies

Liang-Nan Zeng1#, Qian-Qian Zong2,3#, Ji-Wen Zhang2#, Li Lu4#, Feng-Rong An3#, Chee H. Ng5, Gabor S. Ungvari6,7, Fang-Yu Yang2, Teris Cheung8, Ligang Chen1✉, Yu-Tao Xiang4✉

1. Department of Neurosurgery, The Affiliated Hospital of Southwest Medical University, Sichuan, China
2. School of Nursing, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
3. The National Clinical Research Center for Mental Disorders & Beijing Key Laboratory of Mental Disorders, Beijing Anding Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
4. Unit of Psychiatry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Macau, Macao SAR, China
5. Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
6. The University of Notre Dame Australia / Graylands Hospital, Perth, Australia
7. Division of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
8. School of Nursing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong SAR, China
# These authors contributed equally to the work.


Sexual harassment experienced by nurses and nursing students is common and significantly associated with negative consequences. This study is a meta-analysis of the pooled prevalence of sexual harassment of nurses and nursing students in China. Electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Web of Science and Ovid, China National Knowledge Internet, WanFang, SinoMed and Chinese VIP Information) were independently and systematically searched by two reviewers from their commencement date to 12 March 2018. Forty-one studies that reported the prevalence of sexual harassment were analyzed using the random-effects model. The pooled prevalence of sexual harassment was 7.5% (95% CI: 5.5%-10.1%), with 7.5% (5.5%-10.2%) in nurses and 7.2% (3.0%-16.2%) in nursing students. Subgroup analyses showed that the year of survey and sample size were significantly associated with the prevalence of sexual harassment, but not the seniority of nursing staff, department, hospital, economic region, timeframe, age, working experience or subtypes of harassment. In China, sexual harassment was found to be common in nurses and nursing students. Considering the significant negative impact of sexual harassment, effective preventive and workplace measures should be developed.

Keywords: Sexual harassment, nurses, China

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
Zeng LN, Zong QQ, Zhang JW, Lu L, An FR, Ng CH, Ungvari GS, Yang FY, Cheung T, Chen L, Xiang YT. Prevalence of sexual harassment of nurses and nursing students in China: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Int J Biol Sci 2019; 15(4):749-756. doi:10.7150/ijbs.28144. Available from