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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 65-66  

Psychological morbidity among undergraduate medical students

1 Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal, Manipur, India
2 Demonstrator, Department of Community Medicine, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal, Manipur, India
3 Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal, Manipur, India
4 Assistant Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal, Manipur, India

Date of Web Publication9-Mar-2015

Correspondence Address:
Shantibala Konjengbam
Associate Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal, Manipur
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-557X.152872

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How to cite this article:
Konjengbam S, Laishram J, Singh BA, Elangbam V. Psychological morbidity among undergraduate medical students. Indian J Public Health 2015;59:65-6

How to cite this URL:
Konjengbam S, Laishram J, Singh BA, Elangbam V. Psychological morbidity among undergraduate medical students. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Jul 2];59:65-6. Available from:


The aim of medical education is to graduate professional, skillful, and knowledgeable physicians. The medical school curriculum has been developed to accomplish these objectives. However, at the same time, life in medical schools has always been regarded as highly stressful. Some aspects of training may have unintended negative effects on the psychological and physical well-being of the medical students that can undermine these values. This stressful environment will eventually result in poor academic performance, psychological or emotional impairment during professional life, and therefore affect the quality of patient care. [1],[2]

High rates of emotional disorders (ED) among medical students have been reported in several studies. [3],[4],[5] Although there are effective psychological and pharmacological treatments for such a patient, they cannot be successfully treated due to their symptoms which are neither frequently diagnosed nor receive proper treatment. So far, no such study highlighting psychological morbidity among medical students has been conducted in our state. Hence, the present study was undertaken.

This cross-sectional study was conducted in Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Imphal from December 2009 to January 2010. All of the total 397 undergraduate medical students were included except those who refused participation and those who could not be contacted on three successive visits. Data were collected by self-administered questionnaire after taking informed verbal consent. The validated general health questionnaire (GHQ-12) was used to ascertain psychological morbidity. GHQ-12 is a good measure of psychological morbidity in the population. It measures current mental health. For our study, we used the Likert scoring (0-1-2-3). A score of ≥13 indicates mental problem. Results were expressed by using percentages with 95% Confidence Interval (CI). Data were compared by using chi-square test and P-value of <0.05 was taken as significant.

Approval to conduct this study was sought from the institutional ethics subcommittee.

A total of 299 (response rate of 75%) medical students returned the completed questionnaires, which included 45.5% male (n = 136) and 54.5% female (n = 163) students. The prevalence of psychological morbidity among the respondents was 85 (28.4%; 95% CI: 23.6%, 33.8%). Majority [179 (59.9%; 95% CI: 54.2%, 65.3%)] rated their own health as good and only 18 (6.0%; 95% CI: 3.8%, 9.4%) rated it as not good. Psychological morbidity was observed to be significantly more among those students who rated their health as not good [14 (77.8%)] and also among those students in the preclinical period [40 (37.0%)].

Medical education is perceived as being a stressful phenomenon all over the world. Stress caused by the high levels of both intellectual and emotional demands imposed on medical students renders them especially susceptible to the development of psychological morbidity. [1],[2] In the current study, the prevalence of psychological morbidity was high (28.4%). It might be because the study period coincided with the timing when university exams are usually held.

Therefore, pressure of exams might have a role, even though this factor was not studied separately. This finding is consistent with the study by Sidik et al., who reported that among medical students who were studying for examinations, the emotional distress was at a clinically significant level. [5] Sarikaya et al. reported anxiety in 25.6% undergraduate medical students, [3] which compared favorably with the present study. In different studies by Sidik et al. [5] and Mosley et al., [4] the prevalence of emotional disorders was found to be higher (57%). These differences might be due to different curricula, and population or sampling errors. The study results also compare favorably with the results from the UK study by Guthrie et al., in which it was found that emotional disorders are significantly associated with first periods of training in medical school among medical students. [6] It might be because they are more likely to be heavily burdened by the curriculum and the process of adjusting to the educational setting.

This study has shown that the prevalence of psychological morbidity was high. It is important to detect medical students who suffer from psychological morbidity at an early stage, so that treatment in the form of counseling could be initiated. It is suggested that medical school authorities should be aware of these problems and make interventions aimed at treating and caring for the medical students' distress. It may help to decrease the levels of psychological morbidity in tomorrow's doctors.

   References Top

Firth-Cozens J. Medical students stress. Med Educ 2001;35:6-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
Saipanish R. Stress among medical students in a Thai medical school. 2003;25:502-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
Sarikaya O, Civaner M, Kalaca S. The anxieties of medical students related to clinical training. Int J Clin Pract 2006;60:1414-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Mosley TH Jr, Perrin SG, Neral SM, Dubbert PM, Grothues CA, Pinto BM. Stress, coping, and well-being among third-year medical students. Acad Med 1994;69:765-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
Sidik SM, Rampal L, Kaneson N. Prevalence of emotional disorders among medical students in a Malaysian university. Asia Pac Fam Med 2003;4:213-20.  Back to cited text no. 5
Guthrie E, Black D, Bagalkota H, Shaw C, Campbell M, Creed F. Psychological stress and burnout in medical students: A five-year prospective longitudinal study. J R Soc Med 1998;91:237-43.  Back to cited text no. 6

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