Association Between Perceived Medical School Diversity Climate and Change in Depressive Symptoms Among Medical Students: A Report from the Medical Student CHANGE Study

Rachel R. Hardeman, Julia M. Przedworski, Sara Burke, Diana J. Burgess, Sylvia Perry, Sean Phelan, John F. Dovidio, Michelle van Ryn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Purpose To determine whether perceptions of the medical school diversity climate are associated with depression symptoms among medical students. Methods Longitudinal web-based survey conducted in the fall of 2010 and spring of 2014 administered to a national sample of medical students enrolled in 49 schools across the U.S. (n = 3756). Negative diversity climate measured by perceptions of the institution's racial climate; exposure to negative role modeling by medical educators; frequency of witnessing discrimination in medical school. Depression symptoms measured by the PROMIS Emotional Distress–Depression Short-Form. Results 64% of students reported a negative racial climate; 81% reported witnessing discrimination toward other students at least once, and 94% reported witnessing negative role modeling. Negative racial climate, witnessed discrimination, and negative role modeling were independently and significantly associated with an increase in depression symptoms between baseline and follow-up. Adjusting for students' personal experiences of mistreatment, associations between depressive symptoms and negative racial climate and negative role modeling, remained significant (.72 [.51–.93]; 33 [.12–.54], respectively). Conclusions Among medical students, greater exposure to a negative medical school diversity climate was associated with an increase in self-reported depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-235
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 4 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Depressive symptoms
  • Diversity climate
  • Medical students
  • Racial climate
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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