The study finds that possible culprits include discrimination or harassment by attending physicians, peers and patients.
A study shows how MIR students that belong to all LGTBIQ+ collective (lesbians, gays, transgenders, transsexuals, bisexuals, intersexuals, queer and the rest of the identities and orientations included in the +, an indicator that the group is constantly growing) suffer a increased depressive symptomatology.
Linear data from the study show the disparity in depressive symptoms between heterosexual inmates and inmates who belong to the LGTBIQ+ collective. According to Tile Patelthe lead author of the study published in Medscape, “the proportion of people who identify themselves within the community seems to increase every year.” Patel also adds that “with this in mind, it is even more imperative that we highlight and address any observed disparities that disproportionately and negatively affect these groups.”
Those enrolled in the research responded to a health questionnaire quarterly during the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. In the survey, where depressive symptoms were evaluated, obtaining a higher score indicated increased depressive symptomatology. In this sense, “the group of heterosexual inmates reached a peak after six months of the program”, a period of time after which the scores began to decrease, which implied a certain recovery of these depressive symptoms.
However, regarding the scores of the LGTBIQ+ interns, “scores increased steadily after the six-month peak.” The data, as the study explains, prove how doctors and LGTBIQ+ students are more likely to experience mental health problems, usually caused by discrimination or microaggressions, although the study did not assess the reasons behind the increase in depressive symptoms. Therefore, the researchers call for more research on the “drivers of mental health disparities between this group and doctors.”
“The work environment is not so friendly with the doctors of the LGTBIQ+ collective”
According to Patel, “much research is still needed to determine the specific factors that cause sexual minorities to experience a large increase in depressive symptoms” during the MIR. In addition, the main author of the study clarifies that, according to the previous literature, “it seems that the work environment is not so friendly with the doctors of the LGTBIQ+ collective“.
The study finds that possible culprits include discrimination or harassment by attending physicians, peers, and patients when the sexual orientation of a trainee, but it is important that future research determines the specific factors. In addition, the researchers posit that the result is often a higher rate of exhaustion, suicidal thoughts and attrition among students belonging to sexual minorities. After gathering more concrete information about the factors driving the disparity, more “actionable steps” can be taken to address them, Patel says.
An awareness for medical institutions
The same research recognizes one of its limitations and this is that the small proportion of learners who identified themselves led to combining gay, lesbian, bisexual and others into a single category, and for this reason the study does not include a separate, individualized category for transgender or gender non-conforming trainees.
Of the 8,261 inmates who signed up for the study, 84.9 percent were included in the analysis after disclosing their sexual orientations and completing at least one of the quarterly follow-up surveys. Only 7.1 percent of those individuals belonged to a sexual minority. Other characteristics observed in study participants included specialty (such as surgical or non-surgical), weekly working hours, and daily sleeping hours.
According to the study’s conclusions, this research is an important step forward for medical institutions in terms of awareness. By understanding the rates at which minority students, trainees, faculty, and staff have negative experiences related to their identities, the institution will be better equipped to address disparity. That is why, according to Patel, “it is important that institutions recognize the disproportionate way in which sexual minority learners experience depressive symptoms“, he concludes.
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