A comparative study of professional student stress

J Dent Educ. 2009 Mar;73(3):328-37.


A study was conducted involving a group of 290 medical and dental students to directly compare perceived stress levels encountered during their education. A modified questionnaire based on Garbee et al.'s Dental Environmental Stress survey was provided to the students by either email or paper. The purpose of the investigation was to determine if the sources of stress reported by medical and dental students, both male and female, were due to common factors. A multivariate statistical analysis was also conducted to measure stress differences by year in school. Through factor analysis, the survey question responses were grouped into five causal categories: academic performance, faculty relations, patient and clinic responsibilities, personal life issues, and professional identity. The overall findings show that dental students had greater levels of stress than medical students in three of the five categories. The only category in which medical students demonstrated greater stress levels than dental students was in professional identity. Measures of comparative levels of stress between male and female students for either profession did not demonstrate any significant differences. Stress levels related to clinical work varied significantly between the type of professional student and his or her year in school.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Career Choice
  • Educational Measurement
  • Faculty, Dental
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Feedback, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Students, Dental* / psychology
  • Students, Medical* / psychology