A multidimensional perspective of the mental health of preclinical medical students.

Research paper by Barret B Michalec, Corey L M CL Keyes

Indexed on: 09 Jun '12Published on: 09 Jun '12Published in: Psychology, health & medicine


Previous research on medical students' mental health has focused almost exclusively on students' emotional well-being and/or their personal psychological functioning, neglecting the more public side of medical training - the students' social health. A total of 237 preclinical students completed surveys at the beginning and the end of their academic year assessing their emotional, psychological, and social well-being, respectively, as well as the overall negative impact medical school stressors had on their lives. Although first and second year students were found to significantly decrease in emotional well-being, first year students were found to increase in social well-being, with further analysis showing an increase among first year students specifically in the feelings of social integration and social acceptance. The overall negative impact from the stressors was found to predict the change in emotional well-being, but not other dimensions of well-being. However, the negative impact from stressors was also found to indirectly impact students' emotional well-being through negatively affecting their psychological and social well-being. The authors present the value in measuring medical students' well-being from a multidimensional perspective as well as highlight the potential "condensing" of students' social world as early as their first year of training. Recommendations are made that researchers continue to focus on the promotion and protection of students' positive mental health in the preliminary stages of medical education, as well as endorse programs that cultivate the benefits of solidarity and integration experienced by first year students.