Exploring perceived attitudes, beliefs, and barriers of depression and resource utilization among medical students




Mire, Emily

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The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived attitudes and beliefs of depression, especially as they relate to the stigma associated with depression and the barriers to resource utilization among medical students identifying with symptoms consistent with depression. In comparison with age-matched peers, medical students were found to experience higher overall levels of psychological distress (Dyrbye, Thomas, & Shanafelt, 2006). Research also identifies a discrepancy between medical students with a depression diagnosis and the use of resources to treat or manage depression symptoms (Tjia, Givens, & Shea, 2005). This study utilized a constructivist paradigm and phenomenological approach to better understand the experiences of medical students, including their symptoms of depression and attitudes and beliefs towards resource utilization. Participants recruited for this study were 18 years and older and were enrolled in years 1-4 of medical school in the southern region of the U. S. Participants reported experiencing symptoms consistent with depression for at least a two-week period, either in the past or currently, during the course of their medical school experience. The Self-Rating Depression Scale was used as a guide for the criteria of depression symptoms in this research study. Data were collected through interviews in an effort to gain information regarding experiences and to generate recommendations for institutional responses based on the mental health needs and experiences of enrolled students. Data analysis was accomplished through constant comparison and classical content analysis with NVivo software (version 11.0 for Macs). The results of this study found that the first year of medical school is critical, as students transition into a rigorous curriculum. The development of first year-specific, curriculum-based programming to address early identification of depression symptoms and self-care strategies is extremely warranted. Extensive and accessible mental health networks, in addition to appropriate campus trainings, are needed to encourage timely referrals to support services. This study shows evidence of the need for understanding how symptoms of depression translate within the medical school experience and how these experiences translate into consequences and benefits of utilizing resources so that depression among medical students can be understood in a much more comprehensive manner.



Health and environmental sciences, Education, Depression, Medical education, Medical students