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Cent Afr J Med. 1998 Sep;44(9):214-9.

A preliminary study of stress levels among first year medical students at the University of Zimbabwe.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Zimbabwe, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe.



To assess stress levels among first year medical students at the University of Zimbabwe.


A cross sectional study using two questionnaires.


Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zimbabwe, Mount Pleasant, harare, Zimbabwe.


First year medical students aged between 18 and 24 years who have spent about seven months in the medical school.


A total of 109 out of 123 first year medical students were used in the study. The two questionnaires produced similar results with an average of about 35.5% normal and an average of 64.5% of the students being at various levels of stress and or depression. About 11% reported very high levels of stress while the majority of the stressed students fell within the middle bracket. The number of affected students decreased as the level of stress and depression increased and demonstrates the differences in the stress threshold of the individual students. Estimation of suicide tendencies from both questionnaires showed that about 12% of the students were at serious risk and about 20% at lesser risk of psychological and emotional depression. The stratification of group 2 of SRQ-20 was valuable in isolating those students seriously stressed and/or depressed.


This study has demonstrated that a number of first year medical students of the University of Zimbabwe were at various levels of stress and/or depression. Those students in the extreme stress or depression group need serious attention. This state of psychological and emotional distress in the subsequent years of medical training and during the professional years may lead to serious social consequences. A system of identifying students with low stress threshold early in their training is recommended as well as a means of helping them to deal with the stress and its causes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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