1 in 7 internal medicine residents experience bullying

Nearly 14 percent of internal medicine residents reported experiencing bullying by someone in a senior position during their training program in 2016, according to a study published in JAMA.

The study is based on results of a survey included at the end of the Internal Medicine In-Training Examination, a self-assessment for residents administered by the American College of Physicians. Of the 21,212 survey responses used in the analysis, 13.6 percent reported experiencing bullying. The survey defined bullying as "harassment that occurs repeatedly (> once) by an individual in a position of greater power."

Here are six more findings:

  • Verbal harassment was the most common form of bullying.
  • Of those who reported experiencing bullying, 31 percent sought help.
  • Bullying increased burnout for 57 percent of respondents.
  • Bullying reduced resident performance for 39 percent of respondents.
  • Bullying increased depression for 27 percent of respondents.
  • Residents who were non-native English speakers, international medical graduates, or scored lower on the exam were more likely to report being bullied.

The authors note that bullying may, in fact, be much more common than the study suggests because it does not account for "less consequential harassment" or harassment by peers.

Read the full study here.


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