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Psychological Stress and Burnout among Medical Students at the University of the West Indies



Objectives: This study aims to determine the prevalence of burnout in medical students across all five years, and to investigate factors that might contribute to and protect from its effects.

Method: The design uses a cross-sectional, self-administered survey of medical students at The University of the West Indies–Cave Hill, and consisted of a modified Maslach Burnout Inventory–Human Services Survey with additional items developed by the authors.

Results: One hundred and nineteenstudents representing all years participated in the survey: 28.8% male and 78.2% female. Students with high scores of emotional exhaustion (EA), depersonalization (DP) and personal accomplishment (PA) were reviewed. There were significant differences in emotional exhaustion (t = -2.916, df = 104, p = 0.004) and personal accomplishment (t = -2.567, df = 91, p = 0.012) between the basic science and clinical years. Pearson’s r correlations showed a moderate positive relationship between age and personal accomplishment (r = 0.38, n = 92, p < 0.001). Older persons tended to have greater personal accomplishment scores. Persons with financial constraints in the past 12 months had significantly higher emotional exhaustion scores (t = 2.23, df = 103, p = 0.28) and depersonalization scores (t = 2.295, df = 95, p = 0.24) than those who did not. No differences were found in relationship to ethnicity, educational histories, parental educational histories, marital status, or effect of serious illness in self or family.

Conclusions: The study supports the notion that medical students in general have a high degree of emotional exhaustion that increases as they progress academically.

06 Jan, 2015
e-Published: 28 Sep, 2015


Manuscripts that are Published Ahead of Print have been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by the Editorial Board of the West Indian Medical Journal. They may appear in their original format and may not be copy edited or formatted in the style guide of this Journal. While accepted manuscripts are not yet assigned a volume, issue or page numbers, they can be cited using the DOI and date of e-publication. See our Instructions for Authors on how to properly cite manuscripts at this stage. The contents of the manuscript may change before it is published in its final form. Manuscripts in this section will be removed once they have been issued to a volume and issue, but will still retain the DOI and date of e-publication.

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