Background and aims: Internet addiction (IA) could be a major concern in university medical students aiming to develop into health professionals. The implications of this addiction as well as its association with sleep, mood disorders and self-esteem can hinder their studies, impact their long-term career goals and have wide and detrimental consequences for society as a whole. The objectives of this study were to: 1) Assess potential IA in university medical students, as well as factors associated with it; 2) Assess the relationships between potential IA, insomnia, depression, anxiety, stress and self-esteem.
Methods: Our study was a cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey conducted among 600 students of three faculties: medicine, dentistry and pharmacy at Saint-Joseph University. Four validated and reliable questionnaires were used: the Young Internet Addiction Test, the Insomnia Severity Index, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS 21), and the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale (RSES).
Results: The average YIAT score was 30 ± 18.474; Potential IA prevalence rate was 16.8% (95% confidence interval: 13.81-19.79%) and it was significantly different between males and females (p-value = 0.003), with a higher prevalence in males (23.6% versus 13.9%). Significant correlations were found between potential IA and insomnia, stress, anxiety, depression and self-esteem (p-value < 0.001); ISI and DASS sub-scores were higher and self-esteem lower in students with potential IA.
Conclusions: Identifying students with potential IA is important because this addiction often coexists with other psychological problems. Therefore, interventions should include not only IA management but also associated psychosocial stressors such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, stress, and self-esteem.