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Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 63–68 | Cite as

Experiences of Psychological Distress and Sources of Stress and Support During Medical Training: a Survey of Medical Students

  • Katherine M. MathesonEmail author
  • Tessa Barrett
  • Jeff Landine
  • Alan McLuckie
  • Nerissa Li-Weh Soh
  • Garry Walter
Empirical Report

Abstract

Objective

The authors examine the prevalence of psychological distress, the stressors experienced, and the supports used by medical students and residents during their medical training at a Canadian university.

Method

This study used an online survey that included a standardized instrument to evaluate psychological distress (Kessler-10) and Likert-based survey items that examined stress levels related to family relationships, living accommodations, commuting, finances, and program requirements. Depressive symptoms, substance use, and suicidal ideation were also measured, as were supports accessed (e.g., counseling) and students’ perceptions of the overall supportiveness of the university. Non-parametric descriptive statistics were used to examine the prevalence of psychological distress, sources of stress, and supports accessed.

Results

Surveys were received from 381 students (37 % response). Most students (60 %) reported normal levels of psychological distress on the K10 (M = 19.5, SD = 6.25), and a subgroup reported high to very high levels of psychological distress. A small number also reported substance use, symptoms of depression, and/or suicidal ideation.

Conclusion

These results indicate that students experience psychological distress from a number of stressors and suggest that medical schools should act as key partners in supporting student well-being by promoting self-care, educating students on the risks of burnout, and developing programs to support at-risk students.

Keywords

Medical students Psychological distress Burnout 

Notes

Disclosures

There are no conflicts of interest to report. Funding was provided by Dalhousie University, Department of Psychiatry.

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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine M. Matheson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tessa Barrett
    • 2
  • Jeff Landine
    • 3
  • Alan McLuckie
    • 4
  • Nerissa Li-Weh Soh
    • 5
  • Garry Walter
    • 5
  1. 1.University of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.University of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada
  4. 4.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.The University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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