Randomized controlled trial of a group peer mentoring model for U.S. academic medicine research faculty

J Clin Transl Sci. 2023 Aug 22;7(1):e174. doi: 10.1017/cts.2023.589. eCollection 2023.


Introduction: Midcareer is a critical transition point for biomedical research faculty and a common dropout point from an NIH-funded career. We report a study to assess the efficacy of a group peer mentoring program for diverse biomedical researchers in academic medicine, seeking to improve vitality, career advancement, and cross-cultural competence.

Methods: We conducted a stratified randomized controlled trial with a waitlist control group involving 40 purposefully diverse early midcareer research faculty from 16 states who had a first-time NIH R01 (or equivalent) award, a K training grant, or a similar major grant. The yearlong intervention (2 to 3 days quarterly) consisted of facilitated, structured, group peer mentoring. Main study aims were to enhance faculty vitality, self-efficacy in achieving research success, career advancement, mentoring others, and cultural awareness and appreciation of diversity in the workplace.

Results: Compared to the control group, the intervention group's increased vitality did not reach statistical significance (P = 0.20), but perceived change in vitality was 1.47 standard deviations higher (D = 1.47, P = 0.03). Self-efficacy for career advancement was higher in the intervention group (D = 0.41, P = 0.05) as was self-efficacy for research (D = 0.57, P = 0.02). The intervention group also valued diversity higher (D = 0.46, P = 0.02), had higher cognitive empathy (D = 0.85, P = 0.03), higher anti-sexism/racism skills (D = 0.71, P = 0.01), and higher self-efficacy in mentoring others (D = 1.14, P = 0.007).

Conclusions: The mentoring intervention resulted in meaningful change in important dimensions and skills among a national sample of diverse early midcareer biomedical faculty. This mentoring program holds promise for addressing the urgencies of sustaining faculty vitality and cross-cultural competence.

Keywords: PhD; Physician investigators; academic medicine; burnout; career advancement; culture; diversity; ethnicity; faculty; mentoring; peer mentoring; race; relationships; research faculty; self efficacy; translational research.