Dakshitha P. Wickramasinghe, Isuru S. Almeida & Dharmabandhu N. Samarasekera

Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo


Purpose: Medical students face significant psychological stress and adverse life events throughout their student career. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of depression among medical undergraduates in a medical faculty in Sri Lanka.

Methods: A cross-sectional study using a self-administrated, validated questionnaire was conducted among 300 undergraduate medical students of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Prevalence of depression was assessed using Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). The data were analysed by the Mann-Witney U-test. P values less than 0.05 were considered statistically significant.

Results: Three hundred students participated in the study (male: female: 111: 189). Overall, 19% (male: female: 25:32) of students were identified as depressed. Depression was most common among 1st year (25%) students followed by final year (20%) and 3rd year (12%) students respectively. Depression was more common in students who were living in rented rooms compared to those residing in hostels and home (22%, 19.1% and 13.3%, respectively). Depression was less prevalent in students who participated in extracurricular activities than those who did not (11.9% vs 23.6%, P<0.05, Mann-Whitney U-test). There were 2 students with extreme depression.

Multivariate analysis identified residency outside the city and adverse life events to be associated with a higher risk of depression and extracurricular activities to be associated with a lower risk.

Conclusions: 1st year and female medical students had a higher prevalence of depression while those who participated in extracurricular activities had lower rates. A system should be established to identify students with depressive features early.

Keywords:            Medical students, Depression, Stress, Sri Lanka

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