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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2006 May;41(5):415-21. Epub 2006 Feb 14.

Stressors and psychological symptoms in students of medicine and allied health professions in Nigeria.

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College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.



Studies suggest that high levels of stress and psychological morbidity occur in health care profession students. This study investigates stressors and psychological morbidity in students of medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy and nursing at the University of Ibadan.


The students completed a questionnaire about their socio-demographic characteristics, perceived stressors and the 12-item General Health Questionnaire. Qualitative methods were used initially to categorise stressors. Data was then analysed using univariate and logistic regression to determine odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.


Medical and dental students were more likely to cite as stressors, overcrowding, strikes, excessive school work and lack of holidays while physiotherapy and nursing students focused on noisy environments, security and transportation. Medical and dental students (1.66; SD: 2.22) had significantly higher GHQ scores than the physiotherapy and nursing students (1.22; SD: 1.87) (t = 2.3; P = 0.022). Socio-demographic factors associated with psychological morbidity after logistic regression include being in a transition year of study, reporting financial distress and not being a 'Pentecostal Christian'. Although males were more likely to perceive financial and lecturer problems as stressors and females to perceive faculty strikes and overcrowding as source of stress, gender did not have any significant effect on psychological morbidity. Stressors associated with psychological distress in the students include excessive school work, congested classrooms, strikes by faculty, lack of laboratory equipment, family problems, insecurity, financial and health problems.


Several identified stressors such as financial problems, academic pressures and their consequent effect on social life have an adverse effect on the mental health of students in this environment especially for students of medicine and dentistry. While stressors outside the reach of the school authorities are difficult to control, academic support including providing a conducive learning environment, advice on means for sustenance, added support during periods of transition are key areas for interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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