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Prevalence and associated factors of depression and anxiety among doctoral students: the mediating effect of mentoring relationships on the association between research self-efficacy and depression/anxiety

Authors Liu C, Wang L, Qi R, Wang W, Jia S, Shang D, Shao Y, Yu M, Zhu X, Yan S, Chang Q, Zhao Y

Received 19 November 2018

Accepted for publication 29 January 2019

Published 21 March 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 195—208

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S195131

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


Chunli Liu,1,2 Lie Wang,3 Ruiqun Qi,4,5 Weiqiu Wang,1 Shanshan Jia,6 Deshu Shang,7,8 Yangguang Shao,9,10 Min Yu,9,10 Xinwang Zhu,11 Shengnan Yan,12 Qing Chang,1 Yuhong Zhao1

1Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 2Department of Library and Medical Information, China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 3Department of Social Medicine, School of Public Health, China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 4Key Laboratory of Immunodermatology, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 5Department of Dermatology, First Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 6Key Laboratory of Health Ministry for Congenital Malformation, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 7Department of Developmental Cell Biology, Key Laboratory of Medical Cell Biology, Ministry of Education, China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 8Department of Developmental Cell Biology, Cell Biology Division, Key Laboratory of Cell Biology, Ministry of Health, China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 9Department of Cell Biology, Key Laboratory of Cell Biology, National Health Commission of the PRC, China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 10Department of Cell Biology, Key Laboratory of Medical Cell Biology, Ministry of Education, China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 11Department of Nephrology, First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China; 12Graduate Division, School of Public Health, China Medical University, Shenyang, China

Purpose: Although the mental health status of doctoral students deserves attention, few scholars have paid attention to factors related to their mental health problems. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of depression and anxiety in doctoral students and examine possible associated factors. We further aimed to assess whether mentoring relationships mediate the association between research self-efficacy and depression/anxiety.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 325 doctoral students in a medical university. The Patient Health Questionnaire 9 and Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7 scale were used to assess depression and anxiety. The Research Self-Efficacy Scale was used to measure perceived ability to fulfill various research-related activities. The Advisory Working Alliance Inventory-student version was used to assess mentoring relationships. Linear hierarchical regression analyses were performed to determine if any factors were significantly associated with depression and anxiety. Asymptotic and resampling methods were used to examine whether mentoring played a mediating role.
Results: Approximately 23.7% of participants showed signs of depression, and 20.0% showed signs of anxiety. Grade in school was associated with the degree of depression. The frequency of meeting with a mentor, difficulty in doctoral article publication, and difficulty in balancing work–family–doctoral program was associated with both the level of depression and anxiety. Moreover, research self-efficacy and mentoring relationships had negative relationships with levels of depression and anxiety. We also found that mentoring relationships mediated the correlation between research self-efficacy and depression/anxiety.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that educational experts should pay close attention to the mental health of doctoral students. Active strategies and interventions that promote research self-efficacy and mentoring relationships might be beneficial in preventing or reducing depression and anxiety.

Keywords: mental health, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, Advisory Working Alliance, research self-efficacy, doctoral students


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