A recent survey reveals that Latinas in medicine experience high rates of discrimination and mental health struggles, Healio news reports.

To understand the experience of Latinas in medical education as well as the factors that might cause Latinas to leave medicine, researchers sent an anonymous online survey to Latino Medical Student Association chapters across the country and via Twitter to Latinas who were completing or had completed medical school, residency or fellowship in the United States in the last decade.

Almost half of the 230 Latina women who completed the survey were in medical school.

Survey results published in BMC Medical Education showed that nearly three quarters of respondents experienced negative ethnicity-based interactions from others in the medical field and more than half experienced negative interactions from patients and/or family members. What’s more, during medical training, 76.2% of respondents reported having depression or symptoms of depression.

Most participants also struggled with anxiety, burnout and discrimination, primarily during medical school.

report published last year uncovered  a significant underrepresentation of Latino physicians in the United States. Although Latinos account for almost 18% of the U.S. population, the report found that Latinos made up only 6.3% of the physician population. Latinas, specifically, made up a mere 2.4%. And in California, where Latinos account for 39% of the population, only 6% of physicians are Latino.

“Even with efforts to increase diversity within medicine, the percentage of practicing physicians who identify as Latina continues to be incredibly low,” said study author Gabriella Geiger, BS, an MD student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

“This is concerning because the Hispanic/Latino population is one of the fastest-growing groups in the United States, and studies have shown that racial concordance between physician and patient leads to better outcomes, making it increasingly important to increase the diversity of the physician workforce.”

“Without adequate change, it is likely that these repeated negative experiences during and after training can ultimately lead to more Latinas leaving training or their practice, further exacerbating the issue at hand,” Geiger added.

Geiger and colleagues aim to share the survey results with medical schools across the country in an effort to provide school personnel with insight into the Latina medical student experience and inspire more inclusive experiences in medical training and beyond.