Experiences of Discrimination, Institutional Responses to Seminal Race Events, and Depressive Symptoms in Black U.S. Medical Students

Adam J. Milam, Italo Brown, Jennifer Edwards-Johnson, Leon McDougle, Aron Sousa, Debra Furr-Holden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose To examine the relationship between experiences of discrimination, institutional responses to seminal race events, and depressive symptoms among Black medical students. Method This study collected data from a convenience sample of Black U.S. medical students via an anonymous electronic questionnaire in August 2020 that was distributed through the Student National Medical Association and Organization of Student Representatives listservs and an author's social media accounts. It included questions on demographics, institutional responses to seminal race events, experiences of discrimination, and symptoms of depression. Path models were used to examine the relationship between experiences of discrimination, institutional responses to seminal race events, and depressive symptoms among Black medical students. Results Of the 750 students completing the survey, 733 (97.7%) were Black. Experiences of discrimination and a lack of institutional responses to seminal race events were associated with more depressive symptoms (b = 0.19, 95% CI: 0.11, 0.26; P <.001 and b = 0.12, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.20; P =.01). After controlling for gender and clinical diagnosis of depression or anxiety before medical school, there was a relationship between experiences of discrimination and institutional responses to seminal race events such that students who reported more experiences of discrimination were more likely to report that their institution did not respond to seminal race events (b = 0.41, 95% CI: 0.34, 0.48; P <.001). Experiences of discrimination moderated the relationship between institutional responses to seminal race events and depressive symptoms (i.e., the relationship between a lack of institutional responses to seminal race events and depressive symptoms was stronger among students who reported more frequent experiences of discrimination). Conclusions Institutions dedicated to supporting Black medical student wellness must be diligent in cultivating a culture intolerant of discrimination and deft in their responses to seminal race events in the larger culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-883
Number of pages8
JournalAcademic Medicine
Volume97
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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