Mental and Physical Health Perspectives of Medical Students: A Cross-Sectional Study

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: Medical students maintain a rigorous schedule over years of didactic and clinical training to become physicians. The strenuous nature of this training may lead to sleep deprivation, chronic stress, and mental health disorders. Published literature demonstrates the prevalence of such issues, yet few studies provide insight from medical students subjectively with validated tools. Given the lengthy path of becoming a physician and the importance of well-being and interpersonal reliability within the profession, identifying issues among medical students early in their training may help prevent dysfunctions. The aim of this study was to evaluate mental and physical health perspectives of medical students in their pre-residency years to better understand their well-being.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used surveys to collect data. Thirty-two students participated from each of the four years of an osteopathic medical school and were approved by an Institutional Review Board. Participants completed the Simple Lifestyle Indicator Questionnaire (SLIQ), RAND-36 Measure of Health-Related Quality of Life (SF-36), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), and Profile of Mood StatesShort Form (POMS-SF). The surveys were evaluated based on the respective questionnaire’s scoring via means and standard deviations.

Results: The mean Total Category Score for the SLIQ was 6.42 ± 1.26 (possible 10, higher score indicates healthier lifestyle). The PSQI subscores of Sleep Efficiency Score, Sleep Latency Score, Medications to Sleep Score, and PSQI Total Score each indicated better quality sleep in parallel to the progression from first to fourth year students. The SF-36 subscores for Physical Functioning and Limitations- Physical Health demonstrated decreasing means from MS-I to MS-IV classes. The highest total mean subscore across the MS classes was for Physical Functioning at 94.80 ± 12.09 (possible 100, higher score indicates better health status), and the lowest total mean subscore was pain at 46.37 ± 12.89 (possible 100). The highest total mean across MS classes was the POMS-SF Vigor Score at 7.06 ± 4.77 (possible 32, higher score indicates more vigorous). The lowest total mean was for the Depression Score at 1.84 ± 3.30 (possible 90, higher score indicates more depression). Conclusion: Across the surveys and medical school classes, poor scores in terms of well-being were related to stress, diet, sleep, and pain. Better sleep efficiency scores, sleep latency scores, PSQI Total Scores, and worse physical health in terms of physical functioning and limitations were reported on average in parallel with the progression through the four years of medical training. These findings demonstrate many aspects of sleep quality are worse in the earlier years of medical school, and the physical well-being of medical students in later years of medical school is worse. The findings warrant further investigation into whether poorer sleep quality is a consistent finding among medical students at the beginning of their training and whether it relates to the reported status of physical functioning in medical students later in their training. Future studies could assess this via longitudinal cohort studies or by annual repetition of the current study design to evaluate changes observed among differing medical school classes.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2023
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2023 - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences, 1111 W. 17th street, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 13 Feb 202317 Feb 2023


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Week 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • medical students
  • health surveys
  • sleep quality


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