Barriers to Disclosure of Disability and Request for Accommodations among First-Year Resident Physicians in the US

Karina Pereira-Lima, Lisa M. Meeks, Katherine E.T. Ross, Jasmine R. Marcelin, Lydia Smeltz, Elena Frank, Srijan Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Importance: Ensuring access to accommodations is critical for resident physicians and their patients. Studies show that a large proportion of medical trainees with disabilities do not request needed accommodations; however, drivers of nonrequests are unknown. Objective: To assess the frequency of accommodation requests among first-year resident physicians (ie, interns) with disabilities and to identify possible drivers of nonrequest for needed accommodations. Design, Setting, and Participants: As part of the Intern Health Study, a longitudinal cohort study of first-year resident physicians, residents at 86 surgical and nonsurgical residency programs in 64 US institutions provided demographic and training characteristics 2 months prior to matriculation (April-May 2021). At the end of their intern year (June 2022), participants completed a new survey with questions about disability-related information, including disability status, disability type, whether they received accommodations, and if not, reasons for nonaccommodation. Poststratification and attrition weights were used to estimate the frequency of accommodation requests and reasons for not requesting accommodations. Interns reporting at least 1 disability were included in the analysis. Main Outcomes and Measures: Prevalence of reported disabilities, residency specialties distribution, frequency of accommodation requests, and reasons for nonaccommodation among resident physicians with disabilities. Results: Among the 1486 resident physicians who completed the baseline survey, 799 (53.8%) replied to the disability questions. Of those, 94 interns (11.8%; weighted number, 173 [11.9%]) reported at least 1 disability and were included in the present study (weighted numbers, 91 [52.6%] men, 82 [47.4%] women, mean [SD] age, 28.6 [3.0] years). Among interns with reported disability and need for accommodations (83 of 173 [48.0%]), more than half (42 [50.6%]) did not request them. The most frequently reported reasons for not requesting needed accommodations were fear of stigma or bias (25 [59.5%]), lack of a clear institutional process for requesting accommodations (10 [23.8%]), and lack of documentation (5 [11.9%]). Conclusions and Relevance: Program directors should investigate cultural and structural factors within their programs that contribute to an environment where residents do not feel safe or supported in disclosing disability and requesting accommodation and review their disability policies for clarity..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere239981
JournalJAMA Network Open
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 11 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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