Depression, Suicide Ideation Prevalence Among Medical Students Concerning

HealthDay News — The prevalences of depression or depressive symptoms and suicide ideation are 27.2 and 11.1%, respectively, among medical students, according to a review published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on medical education.

Lisa S. Rotenstein, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to estimate the prevalence of depression, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation in medical students. The researchers extracted data on depression or depressive symptom prevalence from 167 cross-sectional studies with 116,628 individuals and 16 longitudinal studies with 5,728 individuals from 43 countries. 

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For depression or depressive symptoms, the overall pooled crude prevalence was 27.2%. Across assessment modalities, summary prevalence estimates ranged from 9.3 to 55.9%. Over the period studied, the prevalence of depressive symptoms remained relatively constant (baseline survey year range of 1982 to 2015: slope, 0.2% increase per year). The median absolute increase in symptoms was 13.5% in the nine longitudinal studies that assessed depressive symptoms before and during medical school. Overall, 15.7% of medical students screening positive for depression sought psychiatric treatment. Data on suicide ideation prevalence were extracted from 24 cross-sectional studies with 21,002 individuals from 15 countries, with overall pooled crude prevalence of 11.1%.

“Further research is needed to identify strategies for preventing and treating these disorders in this population,” the authors write.

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