Gender as an underestimated factor in mental health of medical students

Elsevier, Annals of Anatomy, Volume 218, July 2018, pages 1-6
P. H. M. Burger and M. Scholz

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. 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. 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. 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. 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.