Background: The educational process brings a considerable amount of stress to medical students that can influence mental health status and contribute to further professional burnout. The authors assessed the academic stress influences, mental health status and burnout syndrome, with the intent to find different patterns in female and male medical students.
Subjects and methods: The applied cross sectional study was in the form of an anonymous questionnaire which included: socio-demographic data, self-reported health status and influence of studying activities on stress level in 755 medical students who attended two final years. Mental health status was explored by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), and Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI).
Results: Female students assessed their physical health status and general stress level as worse compared to males (p<0.001). Exams were described as a high stressor in about 50% of all examined students. However, this stressor was significantly more frequent in female students (p<0.001). Female students frequently declared high stressful effects of contacts with patients (p=0.009) and autopsy (p<0.001). The scores of the GHQ-12 questionnaire were above the threshold or high in 51.5% of all students, and also significantly higher in females (p=0.001). High scores were found among 52.6% of all examined students on MBI subscale of Depersonalization, and 33.6% on MBI subscale of Emotional exhaustion without gender difference.
Conclusion: Measures for prevention of academic distress should be targeted at optimization of the educational process, development of the clinical skills and professionalism, with special concern to female students who manifested high vulnerability.