Purpose: This nationwide cross-sectional study assessed the prevalence, possible risk factors, and impact of depression among Korean medical students.
Method: Of all medical students (14,095) registered in 41 medical schools in 2006 in South Korea, 7,357 (52.2%) completed the survey. Depression was measured using the patient-rated version of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI-PR). Data on academic functioning, and sociodemographic characteristics were also obtained.
Results: Current, one-year, and lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) were 2.9%, 6.5%, and 10.3%, respectively. Possible risk factors for one-year MDD were female gender, lower class years, admission track with exemption from entrance exam, living alone at a lodging house or a rented room, and financial difficulty (P < .05). The grade point averages (GPAs) of students with MDD were significantly lower than those of nondepressed students for both semesters (t = 3.8, P < .001; t = 4.8, P < .001). The odds ratio of students with MDD of receiving a GPA below 2.0 was 1.8 (CI 1.4-2.4) as compared with nondepressed students.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated that Korean medical students experience depression frequently. It also highlighted the possible risk factors of MDD among medical students and pervasive association of depression with poor functioning.