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J Med Educ. 1984 Mar;59(3):169-79.

Perceived stress in medical, law, and graduate students.


Students in the medical and law schools and graduate students in chemistry and psychology at a single institution were asked to complete a questionnaire about events and activities related to their educational programs which they perceived to be stressful. The questionnaire was designed to elicit information about stress associated with academic activities, personal relationships, time pressures, and financial concerns. Information was also obtained about time utilization, health behaviors, crises, and support systems. The authors' hypothesis that medical students would report higher perceived stress levels than students in the other programs was not supported, as the highest total stress score was reported by law students. Factor analysis of a 31-item stress scale produced six separate factors pertaining to the sources of stress: academic concerns, time concerns, fear of failing, classroom interactions, economic issues, and world issues. Time restrictions and economic and academic issues had the highest mean stress scores. The hypotheses by the authors that students would report program-specific stresses and that utilization of support services would differ among the four groups of students were both supported. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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