Student abuse in medical school: A comparison of students' and faculty's perceptions

A. Lebenthal, I. Kaiserman, O. Lernau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A perceived abuse or mistreatment has been identified in the United States as a major source of stress for undergraduate medical students. The objective of this paper is to explore whether medical students in Israel have similar complaints, and if so, whether medical faculty members are aware of students' perceptions of mistreatment. Third and fifth year medical students of the 6 year undergraduate program of the Hebrew University-Haddasah Medical School were asked to respond to a self-administered questionnaire similar to those used in previous studies in the USA. An additional questionnaire was developed for faculty members. Response rates were 75% for students and 39% for faculty members. Analysis of the responses indicated that similar to the results of American studies, the number and severity of all forms of perceived incidents of abuse increased from the third (pre-clinical) to the fifth (clinical) year. Verbal abuse was the most frequently reported form of mistreatment. The most frequently identified abusers were nurses, followed by clinical faculty members, and general surgery was reported as the most abusive clinical department. Students' complaints of denial of basic privileges were more common than those reported in the USA, while verbal abuse and physical threats were more frequently reported by American medical students. Analysis of the responses of faculty members indicated that clinical faculty, residents and interns were unaware of the extent of these students' perceptions, while pre-clinical faculty overestimated the extent of verbal and psychological abuse. We conclude that the perception of abuse or mistreatment among Israeli medical students is more prevalent than either students or faculty believe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-238
Number of pages10
JournalIsrael Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Medical education
  • Medical student abuse
  • Sociology of health
  • Verbal abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering


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