Medical students' differential use of coping strategies as a function of stressor type, year of training, and gender

Behav Med. Winter 1993;18(4):173-80. doi: 10.1080/08964289.1993.9939112.


The cognitive-transactional model of stress was used to study the process by which medical students cope with stress. The study examined the coping responses employed by male and female first- and fourth-year medical students as a function of those situations they appraised as most stressful. Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) revealed that preferred coping strategies varied by stressor type and year of training. In dealing with medical-school-related stressors, first-year students used self-blame and problem-solving styles of coping more than did fourth-year students. When dealing with interpersonal stressors, however, fourth-year students tended to use confrontive coping more than did first-year students. Surprisingly, whether the student was a man or a woman had no impact on coping responses. The findings underscored the importance of the moderating impact of the appraisal process on the coping strategies employed to manage stressful situations. Implications for medical education, as well as for future research on coping with stress, are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Education, Medical*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Problem Solving
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*