Impostor phenomenon is expressed by feelings of self-doubt and the belief that one is unintelligent. The purpose of this research was to describe the prevalence of impostor phenomenon among students enrolled in a doctor of chiropractic program and to evaluate for any differences in the rates of impostor phenomenon between males and females.


We performed an anonymous cross-sectional, online survey of all students enrolled in the doctor of chiropractic program at 2 campuses of 1 chiropractic college. We reported the point prevalence of impostor phenomenon and used χ2 to evaluate the differences in impostor phenomenon among males and females. We also evaluated for between-group differences for 4 other demographic factors believed to influence impostor phenomenon.


We received 406 survey responses (34% response rate). Impostor phenomenon was reported in 39% of students responding to our survey. Approximately 46% of all females and 32% of all males met the criteria for imposter phenomenon, and females had significantly higher rates of impostor phenomenon (p = .005). The following variables were not associated with impostor phenomenon: year in which students were enrolled; marital status; whether chiropractic was their first career; and type of clinical experience the student encountered.


Our findings demonstrate that over a third of students enrolled in a doctor of chiropractic program met the criteria for impostor phenomenon, and females were significantly more likely to experience impostor phenomenon. The results from this survey are similar to those reported in other healthcare educational settings.

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Author notes

Kelly Kimball is in private practice in Washington, D.C. (k.kimballresearch@gmail.com). Christopher Roecker is a staff chiropractor with the Grand Island Veterans Affairs Medical Center (2201 N. Broadwell Ave, Grand Island, NE 68803; chrisroecker@outlook.com). Katie Hoyt is a research program manager at the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research (741 Brady Street, Davenport, IA 52803; katie.hoyt@palmer.edu).

Concept development: KAK, CBR. Design: KAK, CBR, KH. Supervision: KAK, CBR, KH. Data collection/processing: KAK, CBR, KH. Analysis/interpretation: CBR. Literature search: KAK. Writing: KAK, CBR, KH. Critical review: KAK, CBR, KH.