Title: Do medical students experience more stress and depressive symptoms than other students do?
Authors: Reidar Tyssen, Karianne Mjelde Røsbak, Line Kjær Løvereide, Kim Christian Danielsson, Ingvar Bjelland, Per Nerdrum.
Institution: Department of Behavioural Science in Medicine, Institute of Basic Medical Science, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo
Objective: To compare levels of mental distress and depressive symptoms among medical students with similar levels among available data of other Norwegian students. We hypothesize that medical students have higher levels of emotional distress.
Subjects: Representative samples of medical students from Oslo and Trondheim (N=351), university college students from Oslo and Trondheim (N=1055), and a student sample (N=1414) from “Helseundersøkelsen i Nord-Trøndelag” (HUNT II).
Methods: Mental distress was measured by the General Health Questionnaire – 12-item version (GHQ-12). Depressive symptoms were assessed by Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale – Depression subscale (HADS-D). We used multiple regression analyses to study correlates of distress and depressive symptoms.
Results: We found that 29 % of the medical students were GHQ-12 – cases (cut-off: 3/4); 34 % among the women and 20 % among the men (p = 0,003). There was significantly more GHQ-12 – cases among women medical students than among other women students (p = 0,006), but we found no such differences among men students. HADS-D – cases were more prevalent among medical students than among other students, and this applied to both women, 6 % versus 3 % (p=0,023); and men, 10 % versus 3 % (p=0,002). Adjusted predictors of GHQ-12 – stress were: Higher age (p=0,002), female gender (p<0,001) and not living with a partner (p=0,044).
Conclusion: We found, as hypothesized, higher levels of depressive symptoms among medical students than other students. However, only the women medical students showed higher levels of mental distress.