Anxiety, depression and quality of life of medical students in Malaysia

Med J Malaysia. 2019 Feb;74(1):57-61.


Background: Medical education is known to be highly stressful and challenging. Many medical students suffer from psychological stress which may lead to burnout and poor academic performances. Quality of life (QOL) of medical students is also affected. In this study, we aim to determine the prevalence of anxiety and depression of the senior medical students and to assess their QOL.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study which involved medical students in their final two years of study at a public university in Malaysia. Self-administered Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS) and World Health Organisation QOL questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF) were used to assess their psychological symptoms and QOL.

Results: A total 149 students participated. The prevalence rates of anxiety and depression were 33% and 11% respectively. Malay students had significantly more anxiety compared to the other ethnic groups, P<0.05. Female students had significantly lower psychological score compared to male; 70.73 vs 66.32(P<0.05). Anxiety and depression were associated with significantly poorer QOL. Students with depression symptoms were associated with lower physical, psychological and environmental domain score whereas those with anxiety had lower psychological, social and environmental scores, P<0.05. Overall QOL score was significantly lower in Chinese students (P<0.05) and those with depression (P<0.001).

Conclusion: QOL of medical students are significantly affected by the presence of anxiety and depression. It is recommended that medical schools implement measures which can identify students at risk and to offer comprehensive intervention and preventive programmes to improve the students' wellbeing.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malaysia / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult