Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 302–306

Medical Student Mistreatment Results in Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress

Original Article

DOI: 10.1176/appi.ap.33.4.302

Cite this article as:
Heru, A., Gagne, G. & Strong, D. Acad Psychiatry (2009) 33: 302. doi:10.1176/appi.ap.33.4.302



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.

Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of ColoradoDenverUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  3. 3.National Jewish Medical CenterDenverUSA

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