Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Among Black Medical Students: the Role of Peer Connectedness and Perceived Discrimination

Adam J. Milam, Osose Oboh, Zackary Brown, Jennifer Edwards-Johnson, Aliyya Terry, Clara B. Barajas, Kevin M. Simon, C. Debra M. Furr-Holden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examined the association between discrimination, peer connectedness, and mental health symptoms among Black medical students. Data were collected from a convenience sample of Black medical students via an anonymous electronic questionnaire (n = 733) in year 2020. The Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System Depression and Anxiety forms were used to measure depression and anxiety symptoms. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the association between discrimination, peer connectedness, and mental health symptoms (Mplus 7.3). The majority of the participants were female (80%), approximately 40% were third or fourth year medical school students, and 13% had a clinical diagnosis of depression/anxiety before medical school. About half of the students reported being watched more closely than their classmates, and 66% reported feeling the need to work twice as hard as others to get the same treatment or evaluation. The majority of students reported that their peers were supportive of their academic success (60.7%), and 53% reported that students often or always invited them to social outings. The mean T-score for depressive symptoms was 53.6 (SD = 7.8), and the mean T-score for anxiety symptoms was 58.6 (SD = 8.4). Overall, findings indicated a high prevalence of anxiety and depression symptoms among Black medical students, and increased discrimination was associated with more mental health symptoms among males. Additionally, increased peer connectedness was associated with fewer symptoms of anxiety among males and females and fewer depressive symptoms among females. Addressing discrimination among medical students may improve mental health among Black medical students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • African American
  • Anxiety
  • Black
  • Depression
  • Discrimination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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