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Potential predictors of psychological distress and well-being in medical students: a cross-sectional pilot study

Authors Bore M, Kelly B, Nair B

Received 21 September 2015

Accepted for publication 25 November 2015

Published 2 March 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 125—135


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Majumder

Miles Bore,1 Brian Kelly,2 Balakrishnan Nair2

1School of Psychology, 2School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Purpose: Research has consistently found that the proportion of medical students who experience high levels of psychological distress is significantly greater than that found in the general population. The aim of our research was to assess the levels of psychological distress more extensively than has been done before, and to determine likely predictors of distress and well-being.
Subjects and methods: In 2013, students from an Australian undergraduate medical school (n=127) completed a questionnaire that recorded general demographics, hours per week spent studying, in paid work, volunteer work, and physical exercise; past and current physical and mental health, social support, substance use, measures of psychological distress (Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, depression, anxiety, stress, burnout); and personality traits.
Results: Females were found to have higher levels of psychological distress than males. However, in regression analysis, the effect of sex was reduced to nonsignificance when other variables were included as predictors of psychological distress. The most consistent significant predictors of our 20 indicators of psychological distress were social support and the personality traits of emotional resilience and self-control.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that emotional resilience skills training embedded into the medical school curriculum could reduce psychological distress among medical students.

Keywords: medical student, well-being, psychological distress, personality
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