Understanding Medical Students' Experience with Stress and Its Related Constructs: A Focus Group Study from Singapore.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE In order to protect medical students from burnout and its untoward psychiatric effects, it is imperative to understand their stress, burnout, coping, and resilience experiences. This study aimed to derive collective definitions from the medical student perspective, to identify common themes of students' experiences, and to distinguish pre-clinical and clinical year students' experiences relating to these four constructs. METHODS The authors conducted focus groups of medical students in Singapore across 4 years using a semi-structured question guide. Participants shared their understanding, experiences, and the relationships between stress, burnout, coping, and resilience. Coders independently evaluated construct definitions and derived common themes through an iterative process, and compared transcripts of pre-clinical and clinical year students to determine differences in experience over time. RESULTS Nine focus groups (54 students, 28 females, mean age 24.3) were conducted. Students identified common definitions for each construct. Nine themes emerged within three domains: (1) relating constructs to personal experience, (2) interrelating stress, burnout, coping, and resilience, and (3) understanding the necessity of stress. Compared to clinical students, pre-clinical students reported theory-based rather than reality-based experiences and exam-induced stress, defined constructs using present rather than future situations, and described constructs as independent rather than interrelated. CONCLUSIONS This sample of medical students in Singapore shares a common understanding of stress, burnout, coping, and resilience, but experiences these uniquely. They perceive a positive role for stress. These findings build upon prior literature, suggesting an interrelationship between stress and its related constructs and adding the novel perspective of students from an Asian country.

DOI: 10.1007/s40596-017-0703-7

Cite this paper

@article{Farquhar2017UnderstandingMS, title={Understanding Medical Students' Experience with Stress and Its Related Constructs: A Focus Group Study from Singapore.}, author={Julia Farquhar and D{\'e}sir{\'e}e Annabel Lie and Angelique Wei-Ming Chan and Mandy Yen Ling Ow and Arpana R . Vidyarthi}, journal={Academic psychiatry : the journal of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and the Association for Academic Psychiatry}, year={2017} }