Factors associated with the mental health status of medical students during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study in Japan
ObjectiveThe COVID-19 pandemic had a substantial impact on university students, including those in medical schools, with disruption in routine education causing significant psychological distress. The objective of this study was to evaluate the factors associated with psychological distress among medical students during the period of enforced home quarantine from March through May 2020.DesignA cross-sectional study.SettingOne Japanese medical school.Participants571 medical students.Primary and
... udents.Primary and secondary outcome measuresSelf-administered electronic questionnaires including the K-6 scale for psychological distress, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) for self-esteem and the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSES) for self-efficacy were distributed. To assess the determinant factor for psychological distress, variables such as sex, grade in school, living conditions, and RSES and GSES scores were evaluated in regression analysis.Results163 respondents (28.5%) scored ≥5 on the K-6 scale, indicating a significant degree of psychological distress. Logistic regression revealed that a higher score on RSES (p<0.001) and GSES (p<0.01) was an independent factor associated with lower levels of psychological distress. Multiple regression analysis focusing on students with a K-6 score ≥5 revealed that higher scores on RSES correlated with lower levels of psychological distress. By contrast, those with higher GSES scores also scored higher for indicators of psychological distress.ConclusionsThis study identified that self-efficacy and self-esteem were both influential factors for predicting psychological distress during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Medical schools should provide support for mental health and educational initiatives directed at enhancing self-esteem and self-efficacy, with a focus on improving personal resilience. In emergency situations, such as that faced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, initial programmes might target students with higher levels of self-efficacy. By contrast, under routine situations, these efforts should be directed towards students with lower self-esteem as primary means to prevent depression.