142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Mental health and wellbeing of sexual minority medical students: A report from Medical Student CHANGES

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 : 12:45 PM - 1:00 PM

Julia Przedworski , School of Public Health, Division of Health Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Little is known about the mental health and wellness of sexual minority students attending US medical schools. Unaddressed higher mental health burden among sexual minority students may result in academic and job difficulties, potentially undermining medical school and physician workforce diversity goals. We examined depression, anxiety, and self-rated health among sexual minority students compared to heterosexual students entering US medical schools, as well as the risk of experiencing harassment, isolation, and other stressors.

The study used cross-sectional baseline data of Medical Student CHANGES, a large national longitudinal study of a cohort of medical students surveyed in the winter of 2010. We fit generalized linear models to obtain relative risks of outcomes, adjucting for relevant covariates. 

Compared to heterosexual students and after adjusting for relevant covariates, sexual minority students had a greater risk of being classified as having depressive symptoms (relative risk (RR)=1.59 [95% Confidence Interval1.24-2.04]) and anxiety symptoms (RR=1.64 [1.08-2.49]); and were more likely to report fair or poor health (RR=1.77 [1.15-2.60]). We also found significantly higher risks of stressors, such as harassment and isolation.

Our findings suggest that sexual minority students may face greater difficulties in medical school due to psychological distress when compared to their heterosexual peers. This, in turn, may result in a loss of diversity among future medical providers, undermining efforts to increase sexual orientation diversity among future physicians and, potentially, national efforts to improve health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the mental health disparities between sexual minority and heterosexual medical students.

Keyword(s): Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student in Health Services Research at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and a National Cancer Institute Health Disparities Fellow. I conduct mixed methods research on health care equity and the social determinants of health, focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.