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Depression, Burnout Have Dire Impact on Medical Training

Depressed students likely to endorse stigma attitudes; many with burnout act unprofessionally


TUESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Depressed medical students are more likely to endorse depression stigma attitudes than nondepressed students, and those with burnout are more likely to engage in unprofessional conduct and less likely to hold altruistic views of physicians' social responsibilities than those without burnout, according to two articles published in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed 505 survey responses from medical students to characterize the perceptions of stigma associated with depression between depressed and nondepressed students. They found students with depression endorsed depression stigma attitudes more frequently than nondepressed students, and that perceptions of stigma varied by sex and class year.

Liselotte N. Dyrbye, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues collected survey responses from 2,682 medical students on burnout, depression, quality of life, engagement in nonprofessional conduct, understanding of appropriate relationships with industry, and attitudes about physicians' responsibilities to society. They found 52.8 percent had burnout, and that, while few endorsed dishonest academic conduct, up to 43 percent endorsed unprofessional behavior related to patient care. Students with burnout were more likely to have engaged in an unprofessional behavior and were less likely to hold altruistic views about a physician's social responsibility than those without burnout.

"The relationship between burnout and medical students' opinions about physicians' responsibility to society raises larger questions for physicians in general. If this association is also true in practicing physicians, it implies that burnout may color physicians' views on their responsibility to promote the public health, advocate for patients, and reduce barriers to equitable health care," Dyrbye and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Schwenk
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Abstract - Dyrbye
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