Online Program

Sense of Community, Academic Performance, and Psychological Distress among Medical Students at One Northeastern School

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Milan Satcher, BS, Brown University School of Public Health & Warren Alpert Medical School, Providence, RI
Katherine Brooks, BA, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI
Kathleen Boyd, MSW, LICSW, Rhode Island Medical Society, Providence, RI
Herbert Rakatansky, MD, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School, Providence, RI
Background: Physicians are counted among the most stressful professions and have higher rates of depression/suicide than the general population. Given research showing that poor mental health may begin during medical school, we assessed sense of community (SOC), academic performance, and psychological distress (using the Medical Student Well-Being Index, MSWBI) among New England medical students.

Methods: We administered cross-sectional surveys to 475 students and conducted 9 structured interviews between April-August 2014, assessing demographics, mental health/learning disability history, support utilization, SOC, academic performance, and PD (defined as MSWBI score above 2). We conducted bivariate analyses using chi-square and linear regression. Multivariable and template analyses are pending.

Results: Among 256 participants (response rate=53.9%), mean SOC was 3.35 +/-3.32, 33 (12.9%) reported academic failures (AF), and 163 (63.9%) reported PD (MSWBI Cronbach alpha=.75). AF was significantly associated with having learning disability before (p=0.24) and after (p=.00) matriculation. SOC was negatively associated with mood disorder diagnosis after matriculation (p=.01) and difficulty coping with an adverse life event (p=.02). The MSWBI score was significantly higher (more PD) for students reporting the following: AF (p=.01), mood disorder before (p=.01) or after (p=.00) matriculation, learning disability before (p=.04) or after (p=.00) matriculation, and difficulty coping with an adverse life event (p=.00).

Conclusion: Greater support and community building may be needed among students with learning disabilities, mood disorders, and adverse life events. The MSWBI may be a useful tool for identifying medical students with PD before AF, but further psychometric analysis is necessary. Future research should assess causality of AF among medical students.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe and discuss potential tools/strategies to identify medical students with psychological distress.

Keyword(s): Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Originally from Upstate NY, Milan is a fourth-year MD/MPH student at Brown University in Providence, RI, where she also completed her undergraduate degree. Her research and advocacy experiences have focused on promoting health equity for underserved populations in the US and abroad. She plans to continue her work in global public health as a family medicine physician-researcher.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.