First- and last-year medical students: is there a difference in the prevalence and intensity of anxiety and depressive symptoms?

Braz J Psychiatry. 2014 Sep;36(3):233-40. doi: 10.1590/1516-4446-2013-1183. Epub 2014 Mar 24.


Objective: Medical training is considered a significant stress factor. We sought to assess the prevalence and intensity of anxiety and depressive symptoms in medical students and compare samples of first-year and sixth-year students.

Method: This was a cross-sectional study of first- and sixth-year medical students who attended classes regularly. The study instruments were a sociodemographic questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI).

Results: A total of 232 students (110 first-year, 122 sixth-year) completed the questionnaires, for a response rate of 67.4%. Overall 50.4% of respondents were male (56.4% of first-year and 45.1% of sixth-year students). Anxiety symptoms were reported by 30.8% of first-year students and 9.4% of sixth-year students (p < 0.001). Female students were more affected by anxiety. There were no significant between-group differences in depressive symptoms.

Conclusion: A higher prevalence of anxiety symptoms was found in first-year medical students as compared with sixth-year students. Strategies should be developed to help medical students, particularly female students, manage these symptoms at the beginning of their medical training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult