Original Article

Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 302-306

First online:

Medical Student Mistreatment Results in Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress

  • Alison HeruAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Email author 
  • , Gerard GagneAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Brown University
  • , David StrongAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Brown University

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The authors assessed medical student attitudes regarding mistreatment and symptoms of posttraumatic stress in those students who reported exposure to mistreatment.


Third- and fourth-year medical students (N=71) responded to questions from a vignette in which a student is mistreated and then described any mistreatment they had witnessed or experienced. They also discussed related symptoms of posttraumatic stress subsequent to the mistreatment. The revised Impact of Event Scale was the primary outcome measure.


Ninety percent of respondents reported sympathy for the student in the vignette and supported her discussing the incident with peers, the resident, and administration. Seventy-three percent reported witnessing or experiencing mistreatment, suggesting symptoms of posttraumatic stress, with no differences in scores across the intended field of study, age, or gender.


In a supportive environment, medical students will discuss their experiences of mistreatment. Symptoms of posttraumatic stress can occur from mistreatment.