Perceived stress, coping behaviour, and health outcomes among South African undergraduate medical students.
This empirical study assessed the perceived stressors in medical school environment and psychological outcomes in undergraduate medical students in a non - western sample. The sample consisted of African and Indian students in the Clinical group (N = 149) and a matched Control group, the Pre-clinical group (N = 158) bringing the total number of participants to 307. The research dealt with perceived stressors, coping mechanisms and outcomes in a medical school environment. Outcome was assessed using self-report instruments which examined stress symptoms and psychological distress. Both bivariate and multivariate correlational analyses were performed to investigate correlations and the predictive value of risk factors for psychological distress. The findings indicate that there are no significant differences in the perception of stressors in the medical school environment between the Pre-clinical and Clinical groups. Maladaptive coping strategies, perceived stressors and female gender have important roles to play in predicting psychological distress. High self-esteem and good social support for both groups, as well as optimism in the Clinical group protects against psychological distress. Strengths and limitations of this study as well as implications for intervention strategies among undergraduate medical students are also discussed.