Development of decision aid on health help-seeking for medical students

Occup Med (Lond). 2022 Jan 10;kqab188. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqab188. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: Rates of mental health problems are increasing among medical students, who have added pressures compared with non-medical students. Medical student populations exhibit low rates of help-seeking and often struggle with disclosing health conditions due to the barriers experienced and concerns over negative repercussions.

Aims: This study aimed to create and test the feasibility and potential efficacy of an online decision aid (DA) tool that provides medical students with resources for disclosing and help-seeking for their health concerns.

Methods: The research used mixed methods, comprising two rounds of testing, the first used the Think-Aloud method to identify modifications needed, and both of which measured feasibility and assessed decision making outcomes pre and post use of the DA utilizing O'Connor's Decisional Conflict Scale (DCS) (2010) and Stage of Decision Making (SDM) (2003) measures.

Results: Results showed good feasibility of the DA. The mean DCS total score decreased from 32 to 16.75, (Wilcoxon signed-rank tests Z = -3.06, P < 0.05). There was no significant change in the SDM.

Conclusions: The results suggest that the DA may reduce decisional conflict, improving their certainty and confidence in decision making, but had no immediate impact on their SDM, consistent with some other DAs. Further longitudinal research would be beneficial.

Keywords: decision aid; help-seeking; medical school students; mental health.