Medical students' coping with stress and its predictors: a cross-sectional study


OBJECTIVES: To analyse stress coping styles of medical students at different time points of medical education and to identify predictors of functional coping.

METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted among medical students (N = 497, 361 women and 136 men) before year one (n = 141), after year one (n = 135) and after year five (n = 220). Students answered the Brief Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced Inventory, the Work-Related Behaviour and Experience Patterns, the Perceived Medical School Stress Instrument and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. Multiple regression was used to examine factors associated with functional coping.

RESULTS: Single factor ANOVA indicated a significant difference for functional coping between the time points (F (2, 494) = 9.52, p < .01), with fifth-year students scoring significantly higher than students before or after year one. There was a significant difference in dysfunctional coping (F (2, 494) = 12.37, p < .01), with students before year one and after year five scoring higher than those after year one. Efficacy (β = 0.15, t (213) = 4.66, p < .01), emotional distancing (β = 0.04, t (213) = 3.50, p < .01) and satisfaction with life (β = 0.06, t (213) = 4.87, p < .01) were positive predictors of functional coping.

CONCLUSIONS: Scores for both functional and dysfunctional coping vary during medical education. The reasons for low coping scores after year one require further explanation. These findings represent a starting point for investigations into how to promote functional coping during early medical education.

ZeitschriftInternational journal of medical education
Seiten (von - bis)11-18
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 28.02.2023


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