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Med Educ. 2004 May;38(5):479-81.

Does medical school cause health anxiety and worry in medical students?

Author information

1
Psychology Unit, Guy's, King's & St. Thomas' School of Medicine, London, UK. gurminder.singh@kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The aim of this study was to investigate the self-reported experience of health anxiety and worry in medical students compared with control subjects. It was hypothesised that medical students would experience more health anxiety as a consequence of being exposed to medical education, compared to students who are not routinely exposed to such knowledge.

DESIGN:

The design was cross-sectional.

SETTING:

Participants were recruited from London University (Guy's, King's & St Thomas' School of Medicine and King's College).

PARTICIPANTS:

Medical students (n = 449) and non-medical students (n = 485) were recruited across Years 1-4. Questionnaires relating to health anxiety and worry were completed at the end of their lectures.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Health anxiety was measured using a questionnaire known as the Health Anxiety Questionnaire (HAQ). Worry was assessed using the Anxious Thoughts Inventory (ANTI).

RESULTS:

Health anxiety was significantly lower in medical students in Years 1 and 4 than in controls (P = 0.017 and P < 0.001, respectively). Worry was significantly lower in the medical students in all years of study.

CONCLUSIONS:

Medical students are not a cohort of preselected health-anxious people, nor are they 'worriers'. Medical education at a clinical level was shown to mitigate health anxiety in the medical student population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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