Prevalence and Sources of Stress among Universiti Sains Malaysia Medical Students

Malays J Med Sci. 2010 Jan;17(1):30-7.


Background: Being in medical school has always been regarded as highly stressful. Excessive stress causes physical and mental health problems. Persistent stress can impair students' academic achievement and personal or professional development. The aim of this study is to explore the nature of stress among medical students by determining the prevalence, sources and pattern of stress and the factors affecting it.

Methods: We chose a cross-sectional study design utilizing validated questionnaires, the 12 items General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and Medical Student Stressor Questionnaire (MSSQ), to evaluate stress levels and stressors. School and ethical committee clearance were obtained prior to the study. Data were analysed using SPSS version 12.

Results: Of the medical students who were administered the questionnaire, 761 (72%) respondents participated in this study. The prevalence of stress among the medical students was 29.6%. The top 10 stressors were academic-related. Prevalence of stress for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth year students was 26.3%, 36.5 %, 31.4%, 35.3% and 21.9%, respectively. Year of study was the only significant factor affecting stress among medical students (P-value < 0.05).

Conclusions: The prevalence of stress among medical students in USM is high. Academic-related problems were the major stressor among medical students. Year of study was the factor most significantly associated with medical students' stress. There was a bimodal pattern of the stress level throughout the year of study.

Keywords: medical sciences; medical students; mental health; stress.