Screening for psychological distress among High School Graduates Accepted for Enrollment at Alexandria Faculty of Medicine: Academic year 2016/2017
Background: Mental and psychological health of adolescents in general and prospective medical students in particular is a priority area to investigate as it affects wellbeing of the future doctors.
Objectives: The current research was conducted to screen first year medical students accepted for enrollment at Alexandria Faculty of Medicine to identify those with a high probability of having psychological distress before the start of academic courses as well as explore the sources of stress among them.
Methods: A cross sectional survey of 779 high school graduates accepted for admission to Alexandria Faculty of medicine was conducted. Participants were approached on the days of obligatory pre-enrollment medical examination. The translated Arabic version of DASS 21 questionnaire was used to screen students for three negative emotional symptoms namely depression, anxiety and stress. Inquiry about age, sex, residency and type of high school was added.
Results: More than a tenth of studied medical students (12.6%) suffered from severe or profound stress and 29.1% of them had mild to moderate stress. Moreover, one fifth (20%) of studied students were severely anxious and less than one third (29.3%) had mild to moderate anxiety. Severe and profound depression was diagnosed among 14.3% of students whereas, 18.7% them were moderately depressed. No association was found between any of studied negative emotional symptoms and the students’ educational background or their residency.
Conclusion: Nearly half of the prospective medical students might have some sort of psychological distress before starting their study in the Faculty of Medicine. They should be investigated to verify diagnosis and start intervention to minimize its adverse effects on academic performance and advancement at the faculty. Stress management courses should be considered for all medical students.
Keywords: Psychological distress, Prospective medical students, Adolescents’ psychological health, Depression, Anxiety, Stress