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Soc Sci Med. 1990;30(7):777-87.

Gender differences in medical student distress: contributions of prior socialization and current role-related stress.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois, Chicago 60612.


Gender differences in psychological distress among future physicians are addressed from contrasting role-related stress and socialization-based vulnerability perspectives. A medical student cohort was surveyed at medical school entrance and after one year of training, focusing on earlier familial relationships, personality and social support resources, perceived medical school stressors and alcohol consumption and depressive and anxiety symptomatology. Relative to socialization perspectives, the sexes manifested more similarities than differences at time 1, although the females manifested lower overall psychopathology, but greater perceived paternal overprotection in childhood. Relative to role stress perspectives, both sexes reported increased psychopathology by the time 2 point. The sexes did not differ in perceived medical school-related stressors, while females manifested better social supports at time 2. The psychosocial predictors of increased subjective distress for both sexes included perceived earlier familial relationships and medical school stressors. The only predictor of increased drinking (by males) was time 1 drinking level. Future research on gender roles and distress should assess both male and female modes of psychopathology and should address antecedents of role entrance in addition to the (presumed) consequences of role incumbency.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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