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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 10, 2015

Burnout, depression and anxiety in preclinical medical students: a cross-sectional survey

Lennard T. van Venrooij , Pieter C. Barnhoorn EMAIL logo , Erik J. Giltay and Martijn S. van Noorden


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalences and correlates of adverse affective states (burnout-, depression- and anxiety-related symptoms) among preclinical medical students.

Methods: Self-report questionnaires were sent to all preclinical medical students of Leiden University Medical Center (n=1311). Burnout-related symptoms were measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS), depression and anxiety-related symptoms and vitality using the Symptom Questionnaire-48 (SQ-48). Furthermore, duration of sleep, quality of life (SF-36), need for recovery, happiness and dispositional optimism were assessed and analysed in relation to affective symptoms using regression analysis.

Results: Among the 433 responders (response rate=33.0%), prevalences of self-reported burnout-, depression- and anxiety-related symptoms were 46.0% (n=199), 27.0% (n=117) and 29.1% (n=126), respectively. Independent correlates for burnout-related symptoms were <6 h sleep per night (p=0.02), low happiness (p<0.001) and a high need for recovery (p<0.001). Independent correlates for both depression- and anxiety-related symptoms were low optimism (p<0.001; p<0.001, respectively), low happiness (p<0.001; p=0.001, respectively) and a high need for recovery (p=0.03; p<0.001, respectively).

Conclusion: Prevalences for adverse affective states were high among preclinical medical students and mainly associated with personality trait-related factors and need for recovery, rather than work-related factors. These findings suggest that being a medical student increases one’s risk to adverse affective states, and should inspire preventative initiatives.

Corresponding author: Pieter C. Barnhoorn, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), 2 Albinusdreef, Suite V7-58, 2333 ZA, Leiden, The Netherlands, Phone: +31(0)649804363, Fax: +31-(0)71-5268259


Special thanks go to Prof. Dr. R. Reis for facilitating the contact between the researcher and Drs. P.C. Barnhoorn, which was crucial to the conception of this study. We thank Elmer Mackor (Directorate of Education, LUMC) for providing us with the information to calculate the response rate.

  1. Conflict of interest statement: The authors declare no conflict of interest statement.


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Received: 2015-8-2
Accepted: 2015-9-20
Published Online: 2015-11-10

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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