#MeToo Movement: Public Health Challenges, Benefits Examined

Female doctor with stethoscope
Female doctor with stethoscope
Researchers are concerned that the increased focus on sexual harassment resulting from the #MeToo campaign may cause negative health outcomes.

Although results of the #MeToo movement have been generally positive, there is concern that the increased public focus on sexual assault and harassment may cause re-traumatization for survivors and health changes for bystanders. Research presented at the American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo examined the outcomes, both positive and negative, of the #MeToo campaign.1,2

Mary Larson, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at North Dakota State University, and colleagues surveyed students, faculty, and staff at an upper Midwest university. Survey questions asked participants to share their “experiences with and perceptions of sexual harassment,” as well as their knowledge of and participation in the #MeToo campaign and any perceived changes in health since they became aware of the campaign.

Dr Larson and colleagues found “statistically significant” differences by gender in the number of days that participants experienced physical, mental, or emotional health benefits or concerns. In particular, women reported experiencing more days feeling confident, health, and full of energy. However, women also reported experiencing more days feeling sad, having poor mental health, and having trouble sleeping. Both men and women reported experiencing anger on more days.

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“We are hopeful that this work will spur future research and, more importantly, policies, systems, [and] environmental and education approaches that will prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the first place,” said Dr Larson in a press release.

Click here for more news from the American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo. 


  1. Effects of #MeToo movement include health concerns, benefits [news release]. San Diego, CA: American Public Health Association. Published November 13, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2018.
  2. Huseth-Zosel A, Larson M, Nelson K. Health effects of the #MeToo campaign. Presented at: American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo; November 10-14, 2018; San Diego, CA. Abstract 44363.01

This article originally appeared on Medical Bag