Depression Among Medical Students in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The role of Communication Between Universities and Their Students

Alexandra Ecker, Abbey B. Berenson, Sandra J. Gonzalez, Roger Zoorob, Jacqueline M. Hirth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Medical students are vulnerable to stress and depression during medical school and the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated these issues. This study examined whether the risk of depression was associated with COVID-19 pandemic-related medical school communication. Methods: A 144 - item pilot cross-sectional online survey of medical students in the US, was carried out between September 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Items on stress, depression, and communication between students and their medical schools were included. This study examined associations of student perceptions of universities' communication efforts and pandemic response with risk of developing depression. Results: The sample included 212 students from 22 US states. Almost 50% (48.6%) were at risk of developing depression. Students felt medical schools transitioned well to online platforms, while the curriculum was just as rigorous as in-person courses. Students at risk of developing depression reported communication was poor more frequently compared to students at average risk. Students at risk of depression were also more than 3 times more likely to report their universities' communication about scholarships or other funding was poor in adjusted analyses. Conclusion: Universities communicated well with medical students during the pandemic. However, this study also highlights the need for ongoing efforts to address student mental health by medical schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere145
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 4 2023

Keywords

  • SARS-CoV-2
  • curriculum
  • medical
  • mental health
  • students
  • universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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