• Ghodasara SL, Davidson MA, Reich MS, Savoie CV, Rodgers SM. Assessing student mental health at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. 2011 Jan;86(1). 116-21. PMID: 21099385 [PubMed].

Abstract 

Purpose

To determine the prevalence rates of four major categories of mental illness among medical students and to examine associations between these illnesses and a range of demographic variables.

Method

The authors invited all 330 first-, second-, and third-year medical students at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to participate in a survey during winter 2008-2009. Students completed an anonymous written questionnaire assessing the prevalence of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and alcohol and drug use disorders. Additionally, the authors obtained student demographic information to investigate variations in rates of illness based on interindividual differences.

Results

Most students (301; response rate: 91.2%) completed the survey. The authors found that depression and anxiety were more prevalent in the Vanderbilt medical student population than in their nonmedical peer group. The authors found that 37 (12%) of the students were borderline for possible alcohol abuse and 3 (1%) were problem drinkers, 1 (0.3%) had a possible drug abuse disorder, and 3 (1%) had possible eating disorders. Whereas exercising one to three times per week was associated with lower rates of both depression and anxiety, having a family history of mental illness was associated with higher eating disorder scores and anxiety. There was an association between gender and all disorders.

Conclusions

Insight into the prevalence of mental health disorders in the medical student population and the variables that may influence them provides important information for medical schools as they develop more robust and effective wellness programs to help students in these very stressful learning environments.