Integration of international medical graduates in u.s. Psychiatry: the role of acculturation and social support

Acad Psychiatry. Jan-Feb 2011;35(1):21-6. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.35.1.21.


Objective: the authors investigated whether social support and acculturation could predict the mental health of international medical graduates pursuing psychiatric residencies in the United States.

Methods: a 55-item online survey was assembled by combining three validated instruments for mental health, social support, and acculturation. A link to the survey was e-mailed to training directors of all psychiatric residency and fellowship programs. Directors were requested to forward the survey to their international medical graduate residents for completion between December 2008 and February 2009.

Results: one hundred eight international medical graduates from 70 different psychiatric residencies and fellowships completed the entire survey. Respondents' mental health scores were normally distributed. The vast majority scored very high on survey items related to mental health. Acculturation, social support, and postgraduate training year were significant predictors of mental health.

Conclusion: residency training programs should attempt to incorporate measures that would help boost the social support and acculturation of international medical graduates (especially junior-level trainees). Acculturation could be improved by language training and courses in American history, culture, and customs, and social support could be expanded by mentoring relationships.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adult
  • Education / standards
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / education*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology
  • Female
  • Foreign Medical Graduates / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Mentors
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States