HealthDay News — Compared with heterosexual students, sexual minority (SM) students have less favorable perceptions of the medical school learning environment, according to a study published online April 29 in JAMA Network Open.

Caitlin R. Ryus, M.D., M.P.H., from the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to examine SM medical students’ perceptions of the medical school learning environment and how they are associated with reported burnout. Data were included for 25,757 respondents, of whom 2.2, 3.3, and 94.5 percent identified as bisexual, gay or lesbian, and heterosexual or straight, respectively.

The researchers found that less favorable perceptions of their learning environments were reported by both bisexual and gay or lesbian students compared with heterosexual students (mean emotional climate scores, 8.56, 9.22, and 9.71, respectively; mean faculty-student interaction scores, 13.46, 14.07, and 14.32, respectively). The likelihood of being in the top quartile for burnout scores was increased for bisexual and gay or lesbian students (odds ratios, 1.71 and 1.53, respectively). When accounting for student perceptions of the learning environment, this association was attenuated (corresponding odds ratios, 1.37 and 1.42); poorer perceptions of the medical school learning environment were associated with elevated symptoms of burnout.

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“Addressing the experience of medical school learning environments among SM students could improve the inclusivity of medical schools, mitigate burnout, decrease attrition, and ultimately diversify the health care workforce,” the authors write.

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