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Issue: Issue 2 (2015)


Original Article

Vulnerability to stress and psychopathology among third year medical students

Author(s):
João Gama Marques, Daniel Machado, Sílvia Ouakinin, and Maria Luísa Figueira
Abstract:
Background: Some studies describe high prevalence of psychological disturbances among 3rd year medical students. The specific nature of factors like perceived stress, medical identity formation, and psychodynamic features are usually pointed as responsible for triggering factors of emotional disturbances but there is resistance among medical student to search for help. The objective of the study was to assess stress vulnerability and psychopathology risk among 3rd year medical students in Portugal.

Methods: The authors conducted a cross-sectional, survey of medical students at the biggest Portuguese medical school, through an anonymous self-report questionnaire, including sociodemographic data, psychiatric history illness, plus stress vulnerability, with 23 Questions on Vulnerability to Stress (23QVS), and psychopathology, with Symptom Checklist 90 Revised (SCL-90-R).

Results: A 56% response rate was obtained among 228 students (70.1% women), with mean age of 20.82+1.27 years (mean ± standard deviation). Main stress factor was academic issues (50%), with female being more vulnerable than male. Stress vulnerability’s mean value was 33.88 ± 9.28 (cut-off point 23QVS > 43) and SCL90R’s Global Severity Index mean value was 0.389 (cut-off point SCL-90-R > 1.5). In a subsample of 24 students, with levels of stress vulnerability above cut-off point (23QVS > 43), a positive correlation was found with interpersonal sensitivity (r=0.517; p=0.1), depression (r=0.497; p=0.13), phobic anxiety (r=0.443; p=0.03), psychoticism (r=0.427; p=0.038) and SCL-90-R’s Global Severity Index (r=0.47; 0.02).

Conclusion: Low mean values for stress vulnerability and psychopathology were found, and among vulnerable subjects, there was a strong correlation between both dimensions.

Keywords: Stress, Psychopathology, Medicine, Students.

International Journal of Clinical Neurosciences and Mental Health 2015; 2:3

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