Cross-sectional study among medical students in Latvia: Differences of mental symptoms and somatic symptoms among Latvian and international students
Keywords:cross-sectional studies, depressive disorder/etiology, medical education, medical students, anxiety, adjustment disorder, mental health
Introduction. This research aims to determine the prevalence of mental symptoms (depressive symptoms, anxiety and adjustment disorders) and somatic symptoms among medical students at Riga Stradins University in Latvia, as well as to display the differences between local and international medical students.
Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted by means of onlinebased questionnaires among medical students in their 1st, 4th and 6th years studying in Riga, Latvia, during March 2017. The mental and somatic symptoms were screened with the PHQ-D Option C (PHQ-15, PHQ-9, GAD-7). Symptoms of adjustment disorder were obtained by the ADNM-6. Medical students were divided into three groups according to their answers of the PHQ-D: Group A: no symptom, group B: a single symptom, group C: multiple symptoms. A general questionnaire and a questionnaire regarding stressful life events over the past half-year were distributed additionally.
Results. 67 (40.1%) participants were Latvian students; 100 (59.9%) were international students. 23 (34.3%) Latvian students were in group A, 20 (29.9%) in group B, 24 (35.8%) in group C. 51 (51%) international students were in group A, 34 (34%) in group B, 14 (14%) in group C. Latvians displayed statisti cally significantly more health-related symptoms (0.003). 11 (11%) international students who reported a stressful life event over the last half-year were in group C. 21 (31.3%) of Latvian students who reported a stressful life event over the last half-year were in group C. 73 (43.7%) of all students had experienced stressful life events and displayed troubles adjusting to them. 65 (63.1%) students of the two groups with a stressful life found the event to have a great burden on them, 63 (61.2%) were wondering whether it could happen again, and 73 (70.9%) tried to suppress their feelings.
Conclusion. Medical students in Latvia have a high prevalence of healthrelated symptoms. Latvian medical students display more health-related symptoms and symptoms of adjustment disorder. Further research needs to be performed to investigate whether Latvians have a lower threshold for stressors or whether they are exposed to more stressors than international students. The high prevalence of symptoms of adjustment disorder may impact the prospective patient-doctor relationship and the treatment outcome.