Background: While medical student debt is increasing, the effect of debt on student well-being and performance remains unclear.
Aim: As a part of a larger study examining medical student views of their future profession, data were collected to examine the role that current and anticipated debt has in predicting stress among medical students.
Method: A survey was administered to medical students in all four years at the University of Toronto. Of the 804 potential respondents across the four years of training, 549 surveys had sufficient data for inclusion in this analysis, for a response rate of 68%. Through multiple regression analysis, we evaluated the correlation between current and anticipated debt and financial stress.
Results: Although perceived financial stress correlates with both current and anticipated debt levels, anticipated debt was able to account for an additional 11.5% of variance in reported stress when compared to current debt levels alone.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates a relationship between perceived financial stress and debt levels, and suggests that anticipated debt levels might be a more robust metric to capture financial burden, as it standardizes for year of training and captures future financial liabilities (future tuition and other future expenses).