An Evolutionary Model of Depression and Anxiety in Medical Students
The quality of the healthcare system partly depends on the health and wellness of its individual members. Physicians play a critical role in any healthcare system and make up one of its largest memberships. Physician wellness has been linked to a high quality of patient care, empathy, and lower rates of medical errors. Therefore, physician wellness and mental health should be considered an important public health issue with significant implications for patients and healthcare systems.
... systems. Psychological distress in physicians typically begins early on during medical school. Several studies have explored various contributing factors to medical student distress. These include a culture of mistreatment and cynicism, taxing workload, viewing self as inferior in skills and abilities compared to peers (also known as imposter syndrome), and personality traits such as perfectionism, competitiveness, workaholism, and Type A personality. Despite the recent literature emphasizing the importance of addressing medical student distress, a cohesive, empirically supported, and comprehensive model of medical student distress has been lacking. In order to adequately and effectively address medical student distress, an empirically supported model of medical student distress is needed that will enhance our understanding of the specific causes of distress in the culture of medical training. This model can then lead to testable hypotheses and it can form the theoretical foundation for evidence-based intervention and prevention recommendations. This dissertation is divided into three papers. Initially, it aims to introduce a new model of medical student distress based on empirically supported evolutionary theories of psychopathology. The second paper will test the hypotheses arising from the new proposed model. Finally, the AN EVOLUTIONARY EXPLORATION OF MEDICAL STUDENT DISTRESS iii third paper will offer practical and empirically supported prevention and intervention strategies based on the result of the second paper.