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Frequently Asked Questions

Key Findings

A. One in five respondents had experienced at least one incident of sexual or gender harassment in the past 12 months.

A. Some key findings highlighted in the report include: certain groups including women, trainees, and sexual/gender minorities are more vulnerable to sexual harassment, sexual harassment is inconsistently reported or talked about by victims (due to concerns the incident was not serious enough, perceived futility of reporting or fear of negative repercussions), elements of organizational climate are linked to harassment (such as perceived supervisor fairness), and sexual harassment is associated with poor job satisfaction and health outcomes.

A. The most vulnerable populations with the highest incidence of sexual harassment are women, trainees, younger individuals, sexual and gender minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

Additionally, those who did not consider their supervisors supportive and/or those experiencing incivility and bullying in the workplace are more likely to also experience harassment.

A. The final report was built on the univariate analyses and frequency information from the interim analyses. It identifies risks and outcomes related to harassment by including some form of analysis such as structural-equation modeling (or an equivalent methodology). The report also looked at additional aspects of workplace climate, such as incivility and bullying, and the potential relationship these aspects have with harassment.

A. Many of the questions provided in the survey were based on validated survey items or scales. Following an initial battery of testing, the survey was pilot tested using 5,000 test participants, before being administered to NIH employees. Furthermore, the data was analyzed using statistical analysis software, R, and duplicated by two statisticians. To promote transparency and reproducibility, the source code for the analyses has been provided to the NIH. Access to the data set will be determined at a future date.

A. The final report relies on the data collected from the NIH Workplace and Harassment survey. Building on the descriptive data and initial analyses delivered in the interim report, provided by the survey contractor (the Science and Technology Policy Institute, STPI), the final report identifies risks and outcomes from harassment, by including complex analyses, such as structural-equation modeling. It also assesses additional aspects of workplace climate, such as incivility and bullying, and the potential relationship these aspects have with harassment.

A. Some IC-specific data will be available when the final report is released. To ensure confidentiality by eliminating opportunities to identify respondents, any question with fewer than 15 respondents will not be included in the final analyses. This may affect what data is available for each IC. Not all ICs will receive the same IC-specific data.

A. Yes. NIH will ask IC leadership to develop and implement a plan with activities specific to their organization that address climate and harassment. We recognize this is only a first step toward cultivating a safer and more inclusive workplace. We will continue to work with internal stakeholders - including the Anti-Harassment Steering Committee, and other leadership groups - to develop additional strategies, supporting a more civil workplace. For example, we intend to perform ongoing assessments to help ensure penalties are being applied consistently across all of NIH. We will continue to communicate to the NIH community to certify their awareness of disciplinary actions (in summary form) as a deterrent to sexual harassment (in accordance with all applicable privacy requirements).

A. The baseline data collected from the survey is exclusive to the NIH population and cannot be compared to another outside group. The information is being used to address the NIH community and to inform the development of helpful strategies to improve the NIH workplace climate.

A. NIH requested preliminary data from the independent external contractor that administered the survey, the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), in order to identify high-level themes and vulnerable populations in the NIH workplace. Information from the interim analyses was used to inform efforts already underway to cultivate a more safe, civil, and inclusive workplace at NIH.

A. The final report will be available in early 2020.

About the Survey

By its close date in March, we had an impressive overall response rate of 44% of all employees, contractors, trainees, fellows, guest researchers, and volunteers. The overall response rate for federal employees and trainees was 56.2%, which is considered a high response rate.

A. The survey asked about the type of job, and the relevant Institute, Center, or Office (ICO), but it did not ask about job titles or GS levels. This approach was taken to ensure anonymity of the respondents.

A. Yes, all NIH personnel - including federal employees, contractors, students, postdocs, and volunteers – were encouraged take the climate survey, whether or not they have experienced harassment.

A. Yes. NIH established a process to work with NIH Contracting Officers and Contracting Officer Representatives of onsite contractors to obtain approval from parent contractor companies.

A. Yes. The NIH Workplace Climate and Harassment Survey asked specific questions about behaviors. The workplace-climate questions addressed a range of objective behaviors including bullying, but the word bullying is not used. The same was true for sexual harassment and gender harassment, in which there were specific questions about a range of behaviors.

A. The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) is an annual survey that measures perceptions of federal employees about whether, and to what extent, their agencies demonstrate conditions characteristic of successful organizations. The FEVS is administered only to federal employees, not to trainees, volunteers, or contractors.

A. An independent external contractor, the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), administered the survey and used an independent cloud-based survey provider certified to be compliant with FedRAMP-moderate impact security standards to collect and store the responses (data). Limited personally identifiable information (PII), such as names and email addresses, were used by STPI for the sole purpose of inviting participants to the study; this information was kept separate from the individual answers, and the PII was destroyed at the end of the survey data-collection period. To protect individual anonymity, STPI analyzed and reported findings to NIH in groups no smaller than 15 responses. NIH staff did not have access to individual answers to any questions at any time. NIH only has access to de-identified, aggregate data, which protects your confidentiality and anonymity.

 

Additionally, STPI received a Federal Certificate of Confidentiality (CoC) that provides protection against attempts to subpoena survey records. Keep in mind that even when a CoC is in place, participants must actively protect their own privacy by ensuring they do not provide identifiable information in responses.

A. An independent external contractor administered the survey and kept the data private. NIH staff did not have access to individual answers to any questions. Limited personally identifiable information (PII), such as names and email addresses, was used by STPI for the sole purpose of inviting participants to the study; this information was kept separate from the individual answers, and the PII was destroyed at the end of the survey data-collection period. To protect individual anonymity, STPI analyzed and reported findings to NIH in groups no smaller than 15 responses.

A. The results of the survey will be used to inform potential strategies to improve NIH workplace climates and help eliminate harassment; to educate NIH leadership and other NIH officials about areas that may warrant further investigation; and to develop potential targeted solutions to any identified problems at the NIH-wide and Institute/Center/Office (ICO) levels.

A. The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), an independent external contractor, administered the survey and is obligated to keep the data private. NIH staff never had access to individual answers to any questions. NIH has, however, received summaries of the data collected so that potential targeted solutions to any of the identified problems can be developed at the NIH-wide and Institute/Center/Office (ICO) levels.

A. Yes, the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), an independent external contractor administering the survey, conducted two types of pretests: 1) Cognitive pre-testing was done to determine if respondents understand and interpret questions as they were intended; 2) Pilot testing was done to examine how people would respond to the questions about harassment experiences and to inform the questionnaire-design methods.

A. The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), an independent external contractor, administered the survey and kept the data private at all times. NIH staff never had access to the individual answers to any questions. NIH has, however, received summaries of the data collected so that potential targeted solutions to any of the identified problems can be developed at the NIH-wide and Institute/Center/Office (ICO) levels. The final document is a trans-NIH report that will be used for internal purposes only, and therefore will not be shared with the public.

A. The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI), an independent external contractor that administered the survey, will have access to de-identified individual survey responses. NIH may request that STPI make available the de-identified individual survey responses to qualified members of the community who request the responses (data). NIH staff will not have access to individual answers to any questions, only aggregate (summarized) data. NIH will, however, receive summaries of the data collected so that potential targeted solutions to any identified problems can be developed at the NIH-wide and Institute/Center/Office (ICO) levels.

A. If you have questions about the NIH Workplace Climate and Harassment Survey, please contact us at workclimate@od.nih.gov.

A. Aside from the final report, which will only include summaries in aggregate form, no publications are planned.

A. Personally Identifiable Information (PII) was destroyed at the end of the survey data-collection period. De-identified responses (data) will be stored indefinitely for the purposes of comparing trends over time. NIH staff does not have access to identifiable individual responses to any questions. NIH does, however, have summaries of the collected data so that potential targeted solutions to identified problems can be developed at the NIH-wide and Institute/Center/Office (ICO) levels.

A. Yes, the aggregate survey results (summaries) will be made available to the entire NIH community via a report. No identifiable information will be shared. The survey report is expected to be available in early 2020. In connection with the survey response rate to certain questions, some information is not available to Institute/Center/Offices (ICOs), to protect the privacy of survey respondents.

A. NIH wants to understand not only the extent of harassment and other uncivil behaviors in the workplace, but also the factors that contribute to such behaviors, how reports of these behaviors are addressed, and how these experiences affect both work life and job satisfaction, as well as physical and psychological health. This information is essential to guide NIH in developing strategies to prevent and address harassment and improve the overall workplace climate at NIH.

Contact

Please contact us at workclimate@od.nih.gov with any questions. To report an allegation, please visit the NIH Civil Program website.

 

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