Prevalence of harassment and discrimination among 1996 medical school graduates: a survey of eight US schools

JAMA. 1998 Sep 2;280(9):851-3. doi: 10.1001/jama.280.9.851.


Context: Harassing and discriminating behaviors on the part of instructors or supervisors are known to affect the quality of work performed by medical students, influence their career decisions, and have other undetermined long-term consequences.

Objective: To assess the prevalence and forms of harassment and discrimination experienced by 1996 medical school graduates.

Design: A self-administered survey of harassment and discrimination mailed to graduating medical students.

Setting and participants: A total of 1001 graduating medical students at 8 US medical schools (4 public and 4 private), chosen from each of the 4 regions designated by the Association of American Medical Colleges for geographic categorization.

Outcome measure: The number of reported experiences of various forms of harassment and discrimination while attending medical school.

Results: Of 1001 surveys, 548 (55%) were returned. Overall, 46% of the students reported experiencing some form of harassment and 41% some form of discrimination from instructors or supervisors while attending medical school. Nonsexual verbal harassment was reported by 41%; sexual verbal harassment was reported by 10%. Discrimination based on gender was reported by 29% of students; discrimination based on race was reported by 12%.

Conclusions: Harassment and discrimination of medical students by instructors and supervisors continue to occur frequently, and new approaches are needed to address these problems.

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minority Groups
  • Prejudice*
  • Prevalence
  • Schools, Medical* / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States