A Comparison of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms between Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Medical Residents: A Report from the Medical Trainee CHANGE Study

Katie Wang, Sara E. Burke, Julia M. Przedworski, Natalie M. Wittlin, Ivuoma N. Onyeador, John F. Dovidio, Liselotte N. Dyrbye, Jeph Herrin, Michelle Van Ryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: The pervasiveness of sexual minority stressors in the U.S. medical training environment is well documented, yet little is known about the mental health impact of such stressors on sexual minority medical residents. We compared depression and anxiety symptoms between sexual minority and heterosexual third-year medical residents, adjusting for depression and anxiety before residency, and examined the role of perceived residency belonging during the second year of residency as a predictor of subsequent sexual identity-based differences in depression and anxiety. Methods: In 2010-2011, first-year medical students enrolled in the Cognitive Habits and Growth Evaluation Study and completed surveys in the last year of medical school (MS4; 2014), as well as second (R2; 2016) and third (R3; 2017) year of residency. The surveys contained measures of sexual identity, residency belonging, depression, and anxiety. Results: Of the 2890 residents who provided information about their sexual identity, 291 (10.07%) identified as sexual minority individuals. Sexual minority residents reported significantly higher levels of depression (p = 0.009) and anxiety (p = 0.021) than their heterosexual peers at R3, even after adjusting for depression and anxiety at MS4. Sexual minority residents also reported a lower sense of belonging at R2 than did heterosexual residents (p = 0.006), which was in turn associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety at R3 (ps < 0.001). Conclusion: Sexual minority residents experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety than their heterosexual counterparts, and these mental health disparities were associated with lower perceived belonging in residency. Residency programs should prioritize evidence-based, targeted interventions for sexual minority mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-339
Number of pages8
JournalLGBT Health
Volume7
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Keywords

  • belonging
  • medical residency
  • mental health
  • minority stress
  • sexual identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Urology

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