Incidence of resident mistreatment in the learning environment across three institutions

Med Teach. 2021 Mar;43(3):334-340. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2020.1845306. Epub 2020 Nov 21.


Introduction: Mistreatment in the learning environment is associated with negative outcomes for trainees. While the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) annual Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) has collected medical student reports of mistreatment for a decade, there is not a similar nationally benchmarked survey for residents. The objective of this study is to explore the prevalence of resident experiences with mistreatment.

Methods: Residents at three academic institutions were surveyed using questions similar to the GQ in 2018. Quantitative data were analyzed based on frequency and Mann-Whitney U tests to detect gender differences.

Results: Nine hundred ninety-six of 2682 residents (37.1%) responded to the survey. Thirty-nine percent of residents reported experiencing at least one incident of mistreatment. The highest reported incidents were public humiliation (23.7%) and subject to offensive sexist remarks/comments (16.0%). Female residents indicated experiencing significantly more incidents of public embarrassment, public humiliation, offensive sexist remarks, lower evaluations based on gender, denied opportunities for training or rewards, and unwanted sexual advances. Faculty were the most frequent instigators of mistreatment (66.4%). Of trainees who reported experiencing mistreatment, less than one-quarter reported the behavior.

Conclusion: Mistreatment in the academic learning environment is a concern in residency programs. There is increased frequency among female residents.

Keywords: Education environment; medicine; multiprofessional; undergraduate.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Clerkship*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Learning
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires