Association of Marginalized Identities With Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and Gold Humanism Honor Society Membership Among Medical Students

JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Sep 1;5(9):e2229062. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.29062.

Abstract

Importance: Disparities in medical student membership in Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) are well documented. Less is known about Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) membership and it remains unknown how the intersection of different identities is associated with membership in these honor societies.

Objective: To examine the association between honor society membership and medical student race and ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and intersection of identities.

Design, setting, and participants: This cross-sectional study analyzed data from Association of American Medical Colleges data collection instruments. The study included all students who graduated from Liaison Committee on Medical Education-accredited US medical schools from 2016 to 2019 and completed the Graduation Questionnaire. Data analysis was conducted from January 12 to July 12, 2022.

Main outcomes and measures: Likelihood of AOA and GHHS membership by student race and ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, childhood family income, and intersection of identities.

Results: The sample of 50 384 individuals comprised 82 (0.2%) American Indian or Alaska Native, 10 601 (21.0%) Asian, 2464 (4.9%) Black, 3291 (6.5%) Hispanic, 25 (0.1%) Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 30 610 (60.8%) White, 2476 (4.9%) multiracial students, and 834 (1.7%) students of other races or ethnicities. Sex and sexual orientation included 25 672 (51.0%) men and 3078 (6.1%) lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB). Childhood family income comprised 31 758 (60.0%) individuals with $75 000 per year or greater, 8160 (16.2%) with $50 000 to $74 999 per year, 6864 (13.6%) with $25 000 to $49 999 per year, and 3612 (7.2%) with less than $25 000 per year. The sample included 7303 (14.5%) AOA members only, 4925 (9.8%) GHHS members only, and 2384 (4.7%) members of both societies. In AOA, American Indian or Alaska Native (OR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.25-0.96), Asian (OR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.45-0.53), Black (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.20-0.30), Hispanic (OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.47-0.59), multiracial (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.62-0.77), and other race and ethnicity (OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.60-0.88) were underrepresented compared with White students; LGB students (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.67-0.83) were underrepresented compared with heterosexual students; and childhood family income $50 000 to $74 999 (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.75-0.86), $25 000 to $49 999 (OR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.62-0.74), and less than $25 000 (OR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.53-0.69) were underrepresented compared with greater than or equal to $75 000. In GHHS, Asian students (OR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.73-0.87) were underrepresented compared with White students, female students (OR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.45-1.65) were overrepresented compared with male students, LGB students (OR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.23-1.51) were overrepresented compared with heterosexual students, and students with childhood family income $25 000 to $49 999 (OR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.78-0.94) and less than $25 000 (OR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.66-0.86) were underrepresented compared with those with greater than or equal to $75 000. Likelihood of AOA, but not GHHS, membership decreased as number of marginalized identities increased.

Conclusions and relevance: In this cross-sectional study of US medical students, membership disparities were noted in both AOA and GHHS. However, differences in GHHS existed across fewer identities, sometimes favored the marginalized group, and were not cumulative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humanism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical*