Gender as an underestimated factor in mental health of medical students

Elsevier, Annals of Anatomy, Volume 218, July 2018
Burger P.H.M., Scholz M.
Background: In Germany, currently two out of three medical students are female. Several studies corroborate that medical students show a significantly higher prevalence of stress-related mental disorders than the population in general. Aims: We aimed to evaluate, if gender has an influence on the distribution of mental stress parameters and learning style among male and female medical students. Methods: We investigated a total of 758 students of the medical faculty at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg, Germany, using standardized and validated psychological questionnaires on depressive symptoms (BDI-II), burnout (BOSS-II) and quality of life (SF-12). In addition, we screened the students for their learning styles according to Kolb. Results: Out of 723 participants who declared their gender, 57.8% were female and 37.6% were male. Female students showed significantly higher values for depressiveness as well as for emotional and cognitive burnout, whereas the mental quality of life was significantly lower. A considerably higher percentage of male students with a converging or an accommodating learning style were found in comparison to their female fellows. Conclusions: We postulate that an adaptation of the medical curriculum content to the investigated factors may contribute to a higher mental stability and less stress-related symptoms in medical students.