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Anxiety and Its Association with Preparation for Future Specialty: A Cross-Sectional Study Among Medical Students, Saudi Arabia

Authors AlShamlan NA, AlOmar RS, Al Shammari MA, AlShamlan RA, AlShamlan AA, Sebiany AM

Received 25 April 2020

Accepted for publication 10 June 2020

Published 6 July 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 581—591


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Nouf A AlShamlan,1 Reem S AlOmar,1 Malak A Al Shammari,1 Reem A AlShamlan,2 Abeer A AlShamlan,2 Abdulaziz M Sebiany1

1Department of Family and Community Medicine, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia; 2College of Medicine, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence: Nouf A AlShamlan
Department of Family and Community Medicine, Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia
Tel +00966504901406
Email [email protected]

Background: Anxiety disorders are a significant global health concern with destructive morbidity and mortality. Medical school is a stressful environment worldwide. This study measures the prevalence of anxiety symptoms among clinical-year medical students in Saudi Arabia. As well as to explore its association with students’ sociodemographic factors, academic performance, issues experienced by them during the study of medicine, and their perceived readiness for their future specialties.
Methods: The generalized anxiety disorder (GAD-7) tool along with a sociodemographic questionnaire was distributed to 523 clinical-year medical students (fourth, fifth and sixth years) from the Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University, Saudi Arabia, in this cross-sectional study. Data analysis was performed with SPSS version 23 and it included the Chi-Square or Fisher’s exact tests for bivariate analysis, and the multivariable logistic regression to account for confounders.
Results: The prevalence of anxiety symptoms as measured by the GAD-7 was found to be 31.7%. Of these, 14.3% had severe symptoms. Only 4.4% students went to a healthcare professional and were diagnosed with psychiatric problems. Logistic regression analysis revealed that the odds of anxiety was higher among females and students who had perceived psychological problems. However, students’ grade point average (GPA) and perceived readiness for their future specialty were not statistically significant with anxiety symptoms.
Conclusion: Anxiety was highly prevalent among clinical-year medical students included in this study. This urges periodic mental health screening, proper diagnosis of high-risk individuals in medical schools, and early interventions through confidential access to mental health services.

Keywords: prevalence, generalized anxiety disorder, medical students, Saudi

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