Qualitative Literature Review of the Prevalence of Depression in Medical Students Compared to Students in Non-medical Degrees.

Academic psychiatry : the journal of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and the Association for Academic Psychiatry

PubMedID: 25398265

Bacchi S, Licinio J. Qualitative Literature Review of the Prevalence of Depression in Medical Students Compared to Students in Non-medical Degrees. Acad Psychiatry. 2014;.
PURPOSE
The purpose of this study is to review studies published in English between 1 January 2000 and 16 June 2014, in peer-reviewed journals, that have assessed the prevalence of depression, comparing medical students and non-medical students with a single evaluation method.

METHOD
The databases PubMed, Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and Scopus were searched for eligible articles. Searches used combinations of the Medical Subject Headings medical student and depression. Titles and abstracts were reviewed to determine eligibility before full-text articles were retrieved, which were then also reviewed.

RESULTS
Twelve studies met eligibility criteria. Non-medical groups surveyed included dentistry, business, humanities, nursing, pharmacy, and architecture students. One study found statistically significant results suggesting that medical students had a higher prevalence of depression than groups of non-medical students; five studies found statistically significant results indicating that the prevalence of depression in medical students was less than that in groups of non-medical students; four studies found no statistically significant difference, and two studies did not report on the statistical significance of their findings. One study was longitudinal, and 11 studies were cross-sectional.

CONCLUSION
While there are limitations to these comparisons, in the main, the reviewed literature suggests that medical students have similar or lower rates of depression compared to certain groups of non-medical students. A lack of longitudinal studies meant that potential common underlying causes could not be discerned, highlighting the need for further research in this area. The high rates of depression among medical students indicate the continuing need for interventions to reduce depression.