Prevalence of impostor phenomenon and its association with self-esteem among medical interns in Goa, India

Von R. Mascarenhas, Delia D’Souza, Abhishek Bicholkar


Background: Imposter phenomenon (IP) is an internal experience of intellectual phoniness that those who feel fraudulence and worthlessness have in spite of outstanding academic or professional accomplishment. It is desirable for Medical students and interns to have high self-esteem and low impostor characteristics in order to become successful medical practitioners. This study was carried out among the medical interns of a tertiary care medical college, to determine the prevalence of Impostor Phenomenon and its association with self-esteem.

Methods: The present cross-sectional study was conducted among 150 medical interns. Clance’s impostor phenomenon scale and Rosenberg self-esteem scale were used to assess Impostor characteristics and self-esteem respectively. Data was collected using online survey method.

Results: The majority (44.7%) of study participants had moderate IP characteristics, followed by 41.3% with high IP characteristics. Hours of sleep was found to be significantly associated with IP characteristics (p value<0.001). Self-esteem was found to be significantly and inversely correlated with age (r=-0.222), and positively correlated with hours of sleep (r=0.225). Impostor phenomenon and self-esteem were found to be moderately and inversely correlated (r=-0.519).

Conclusions: A large number of medical interns were found to have high impostor phenomenon characteristics and low self-esteem. Impostor characteristics were found to be significantly associated with sleep, suggesting a relationship between feelings of fraudulence and skewed sleep patterns. A significant negative correlation between self-esteem and impostor phenomenon suggests that individuals with stronger IP characteristics had lower self-esteem, and vice versa. Low impostor phenomenon characteristics and high self-esteem are favourable for efficient medical practice. Measures to increase level of confidence and self-esteem among medical students and interns should be implemented. 


Impostor phenomenon, Impostorism, Self-esteem, Medical interns

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