A Comparative Study of Perceived Stress among Female Medical and Non-Medical University Students in Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Badria K Al-Dabal, Manal R Koura, Parveen Rasheed, Latifa Al-Sowielem, Suhair M Makki


Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate any differences between female undergraduate medical and non-medical students for: 1) prevalence and causes of perceived academic stress, and 2) changes in physical, mental, psychological and emotional health as well as life-style since starting college studies. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at Dammam University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia, in January 2008. All 319 pre-clinical female medical students were included in the study and 297 non-medical students from the College of Applied Studies and Community Services (CASCS) were selected by stratified random sampling. The study instrument was a questionnaire on the “Influence of Studying on Students’ Health”. Results: More medical students (48.6%) reported being frequently stressed due to studies than CASCS students (38.7%, P <0.01). Unsuitable teaching methods, an unsatisfactory study environment, and fear of failure in examinations were more frequently mentioned by medical than non-medical students (P <0.05). While underlying social problems were significantly more common in medical students, economic problems were more prevalent among CASCS students (P <0.05, P <0.05). More medical than non-medical students reported a worse status of physical and mental health, anxiety and depression and negative life-style changes since initiation of the college programme. Conclusion: Medical students were at higher risk of physical and mental health problems than non-medical students due to academic stress. Since a substantial proportion of CASCS students also experienced academic stress, we recommend that a student support committee be established for both colleges to provide counselling and guidance in healthy ways to cope with stress.


Stress; Psychology; Education; Epidemiology

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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