Quality of life of medical students in China: a study using the WHOQOL-BREF

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49714. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049714. Epub 2012 Nov 27.


Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the quality of life (QOL) of medical students during their medical education and explore the influencing factors of the QOL of students.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in June 2011. The study population was composed of 1686 medical students in years 1 to 5 at China Medical University. The Chinese version of WHOQOL-BREF instrument was used to assess the QOL of medical students. The reliability and validity of the questionnaire were assessed by Cronbach's α coefficient and factor analysis respectively. The relationships between QOL and the factors including gender, academic year level, and specialty were examined using t-test or one-way ANOVA followed by Student-Newman-Keuls test. Statistic analysis was performed by SPSS 13.0.

Results: The overall Cronbach's α coefficient of the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire was 0.731. The confirmatory factor analysis provided an acceptable fit to a four-factor model in the medical student sample. The scores of different academic years were significantly different in the psychological health and social relations domains (p<0.05). Third year students had the lowest scores in psychological health and social relations domains. The scores of different specialties had significant differences in psychological health and social relations domains (p<0.05). Students from clinical medicine had the highest scores. Gender, interest in the area of study, confidence in career development, hometown location, and physical exercise were significantly associated with the quality of life of students in some domains (p<0.05).

Conclusions: The WHOQOL-BREF was reliable and valid in the assessment of the QOL of Chinese medical students. In order to cope with the influencing factors of the QOL, medical schools should carry out curriculum innovation and give the necessary support for medical students, especially for 3(rd) year students.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • China
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Number 71103200 and 81273186) and the Foundation of the Educational Department of Liaoning Province of China (Grant Number L2010577). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.