First year medical student stress and coping in a problem-based learning medical curriculum
Version of Record online: 15 MAR 2004
Volume 38, Issue 5, pages 482–491, May 2004
How to Cite
Moffat, K. J., McConnachie, A., Ross, S. and Morrison, J. M. (2004), First year medical student stress and coping in a problem-based learning medical curriculum. Medical Education, 38: 482–491. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2929.2004.01814.x
- Issue online: 26 APR 2004
- Version of Record online: 15 MAR 2004
- Received 12 December 2001; editorial comments to authors 18 March 2002, 27 March 2003; accepted for publication 4 June 2003
- education, medical, continuing/*standards;
- stress psychological/*psychology/prevention and control;
- *adaptation psychological;
- problem-based learning/methods;
- longitudinal study;
- cohort study;
Objective To examine the prevalence of psychological morbidity, sources of stress and coping mechanisms in first year students in a problem-based learning undergraduate medical curriculum.
Design Longitudinal cohort questionnaire survey.
Setting Glasgow University Medical School.
Participants All first year students (n = 275) in the 1997–98 intake.
Main outcome measures Scores on the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), sources of stress and coping strategies.
Results The prevalence of psychological morbidity and mean GHQ-12 scores increased significantly between term 1 and term 3, with no significant gender differences. Principal stressors were related to medical training rather than to personal problems, in particular uncertainty about individual study behaviour, progress and aptitude, with specific concerns about assessment and the availability of learning materials. The group learning environment, including tutor performance, and interactions with peers and patients caused little stress. Students generally used active coping strategies. Both stressor group scoring and coping strategies showed some variation with gender and GHQ caseness.
Conclusions Increased student feedback and guidance about progress throughout the year and the provision of adequate learning resources may reduce student stress. Educational or pastoral intervention regarding effective coping strategies may also be beneficial. Continued follow-up of this cohort could provide information to inform further curriculum development and, if appropriate, aid the design of programmes for the prevention of stress-related problems.