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Med Educ. 1995 Mar;29(2):119-27.

Stress and vulnerability in medical students.

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Department of Community Medicine, University of Hong Kong.


One hundred and forty Hong Kong Chinese students were surveyed early in the second year of their medical education (year 2), and compared with 138 students surveyed prior to beginning their first year of medical school and with 74 non-medical university students in their second year. In year 2 students, distress as reflected in their scores on anxiety and depression self-report scales was high, and these students reported greater utilization of health professional services as compared with the other two groups. In year 2 students, concerns related to the medical school environment and curriculum, and whether one has the endurance and ability to be successful were significant correlates with depression and anxiety. Loss of opportunity to maintain social and recreational sources of gratification correlated with anxiety. There was no difference between the sexes with regard to the development of anxiety and depression symptoms. Academically less successful students reported somewhat higher levels of depressive ideation and symptomatology. Trait anxiety correlated with the development of distress, while optimism protected against the development of distress. Active coping styles and positive reinterpretation as a coping strategy correlated negatively with distress, while wishful thinking correlated positively with distress. These findings emphasize the need for greater attention to the psychological well-being of doctors-in-training, in Hong Kong as in the Western world. These findings should be further explored in longitudinal studies, and may be helpful in designing intervention and support programmes for vulnerable students.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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