Study: Mistreatment in Medical School is More Prevalent Among Female, Minority, and LGB Students

The findings of a new study suggest that female, underrepresented minority (URM), Asian, multiracial, and lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) students seem to bear a disproportionate burden of the mistreatment in medical school. The study appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“Previous studies have shown that medical student mistreatment is common. However, few data exist to date describing how the prevalence of medical student mistreatment varies by student sex, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation,” the research authors wrote in their abstract.

In this cohort study, they analyzed data from the 2016 and 2017 Association of American Medical Colleges Questionnaire, which annually surveys graduating students from all 140 accredited allopathic medical schools in the US. In total, they assessed 27,504 unique student surveys. The sample of respondents included: 48.5% female; 60% white; 20.5% Asian; 8.8 URM; 8.6% multiracial; 93.7% heterosexual; and 5.3% LGB. The primary endpoint was specified as the prevalence of self-reported medical student mistreatment by sex, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

Findings Highlight Need for Equity

The results showed that at least one episode of mistreatment was reported by a greater percentage of female students juxtaposed to male students (40.9% vs 25.2%, P < .001); Asian, URM, and multiracial students compared with white students (31.9%, 38.0%, 32.9%, and 24.0%, respectively; P < .001); and LGB students compared with heterosexual students (43.5% vs 23.6%, P < .001).

The researchers also observed a higher percentage of female students reported discrimination based on gender compared to their male counterparts (28.2% vs. 9.4%, P < .001); a greater proportion of Asian, URM, and multiracial students compared with white students reported discrimination based on race/ethnicity (15.7%, 23.3%, 11.8%, and 3.8%, respectively; P < .001), and LGB students reported a higher prevalence of discrimination based on sexual orientation compared to heterosexual students (23.1% vs 1.0%, P < .001).

Moreover, the results showed a higher proportions of female (17.8% vs. 7.0%), URM, Asian, and multiracial (4.9% white, 10.7% Asian, 16.3% URM, and 11.3% multiracial), and LGB (16.4% vs. 3.6%) students reported two or more types of mistreatment compared with their male, white, and heterosexual counterparts (P < .001).

The authors concluded that, “addressing the disparate mistreatment reported will be an important step to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in medical education.”