Medical Students at High Risk for Depression, Suicidal Ideation
High levels of stress and responsibility lead to greater prevalence of depression and suicidal ideation in medical students.
HealthDay News — The prevalences of depression or depressive symptoms and suicide ideation are 27.2% and 11.1%, respectively, among medical students, according to a review published in the Dec. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on medical education.
Lisa S. Rotenstein, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to estimate the prevalence of depression, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation in medical students. The researchers extracted data on depression or depressive symptom prevalence from 167 cross-sectional studies with 116 628 individuals and 16 longitudinal studies with 5728 individuals from 43 countries.
For depression or depressive symptoms, the overall pooled crude prevalence was 27.2%. Across assessment modalities, summary prevalence estimates ranged from 9.3% to 55.9%. Over the period studied, the prevalence of depressive symptoms remained relatively constant (baseline survey year range of 1982 to 2015: slope, 0.2% increase per year). The median absolute increase in symptoms was 13.5% in the 9 longitudinal studies that assessed depressive symptoms before and during medical school. Overall, 15.7% of medical students screening positive for depression sought psychiatric treatment. Data on suicide ideation prevalence were extracted from 24 cross-sectional studies with 21 002 individuals from 15 countries, with overall pooled crude prevalence of 11.1%.
"Further research is needed to identify strategies for preventing and treating these disorders in this population," the authors wrote.
Rotenstein LS, Ramos MA, Torre M, et al. Prevalence of depression, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation among medical students: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016;316(21):2214-2236. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.17324.