Impact of academic stressors predicts depressive symptoms in medical students over and above personal stressors.

Erin O'Reilly, Kathy G. McNeill, Kenneth I. Mavor, Katrina Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background:
Medical school is a challenging environment that requires students to deal effectively with stress borne out of the medical education environment, as well as their personal lives. Previous research has not systemically distinguished between academic and personal sources of stress, and in particular has not explored the independent contribution that academic stressors make to medical student depression.
Purposes:
This study aimed to investigate whether academic stressors make a unique contribution to the level of depressivesymptoms in medical students, over and above the contribution made by personal stressors alone. Methods
:
Sixty-seven medical students completed an online questionnaire designed to measure the total number of recent life events (personal and academic), and their perceived impact, using a modified version of the Psychiatric Epidemiology
Research Interview Life Events Scale. Depressive symptoms were measured
using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Results
:
Both the total number of personal stressors, r(67) = .363, p = .003, and their perceived impact, r(67) = .412, p = .001, were found to be positively related to depressive symptoms. A positive relationship was also observed between depressive symptoms and the total number of academic stressors, r(67) = .321, p = .008, and their perceived impact, r(67) = .489, p< .001. In addition, it was found that the perceived impact of academic stressors was able to explain higher levels of depressive symptoms in medical students over and above the effect afforded by personal stressors alone. Conclusion
:
The findings of this study suggest that stress borne out of the medical school environment contributes to depressive symptoms in medical students over and above the contribution made by personal stressors alone. This indicates that
although it is important to help students cope with stress borne out of
their personal lives, interventions by medical schools aimed at reducing
the impact of academic stressors on medical student depression may also
be of great importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-63
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Volume26
Issue number1
Early online date9 Jan 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Medical students
  • Personal and academic stressors
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Life events

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