Share this article on:

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Mentoring Interventions for Underrepresented Minorities

Lewis, Vivian MD; Martina, Camille A. PhD; McDermott, Michael P. PhD; Trief, Paula M. PhD; Goodman, Steven R. PhD; Morse, Gene D. PharmD; LaGuardia, Jennifer G. PhD; Sharp, Daryl PhD, RN; Ryan, Richard M. PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001056
Research Reports

Purpose To conduct a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of different mentoring interventions on the basic psychological need satisfaction of underrepresented minorities and women in academia.

Method Participants were 150 mentor/protégé dyads from three academic medical centers and eight other colleges and universities in western and central New York, randomized from 2010 to 2013 into mentor training (using principles of self-determination theory); peer mentoring for protégés; mentor training and peer mentoring for protégés combined; or control/usual practice. Protégé participants were graduate students, fellows, and junior faculty who were from underrepresented groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, or disability.

The primary analysis was a comparison of intervention effects on changes in protégés’ satisfaction of their basic psychological needs (competence, autonomy, and relatedness) with their mentor. They completed a well-validated, online questionnaire every two months for one year.

Results There was no significant effect at the end of one year of either mentor training or peer mentoring on protégés’ psychological basic need satisfaction with mentor specifically or at work in general. Exploratory analyses showed a significant effect of the mentor-based intervention on the protégés’ overall psychological need satisfaction with their mentor at two months, the time point closest to completing mentor training.

Conclusions This randomized controlled trial showed a potential short-term effect of mentor training on changing basic psychological need satisfaction of underrepresented scholars with their mentors. Despite the lack of sustained effect of either mentor training or peer mentoring, these short-term changes suggest feasibility and potential for future study.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

V. Lewis is professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and vice provost for faculty development and diversity, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York.

C.A. Martina is research assistant professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York.

M.P. McDermott is professor, Departments of Biostatistics and Computational Biology and Neurology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York.

P.M. Trief is professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Medicine, and senior associate dean for faculty affairs and faculty development, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.

S.R. Goodman is professor, Department of Pediatrics and Physiology, and vice chancellor for research, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis Tennessee.

G.D. Morse is SUNY distinguished professor of pharmacy practice, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.

J.G. LaGuardia is affiliated with the Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California.

D. Sharp is professor of clinical nursing, University of Rochester School of Nursing, Rochester, New York.

R.M. Ryan is professor, Department of Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York.

Funding/Support: This study was supported by grant 1DP4GM096850-01 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and grant 1 UL1RR024160-1 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: This study was approved by the institutional review boards of the University of Rochester, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and University at Buffalo.

Previous presentation: Findings were presented in part at the Association of American Medical Colleges annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois; November 7–11, 2014.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Correspondence should be addressed to Vivian Lewis, 137 Wallis Hall, Box 270016, Rochester, NY 14627-0016; telephone: (585) 273-2760; e-mail:

© 2016 by the Association of American Medical Colleges