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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 166-168

Perception of stress and coping tactics among medical students at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh

1 Research Scholar, Department of Psychology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India
2 Research Scholar, Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication31-Dec-2018

Correspondence Address:
Mr. Shahnawaz Mushtaq
Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AMH.AMH_23_18

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Introduction: Medical students face a number of stressors because of time pressure, which affects their academic performance and quality of life. Previous studies have shown that coping reduce the level of stress among medical students.
Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the level of stress and coping mechanism among medical students.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 200 first-year medical students at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh (130 males and 70 females), were invited to fill in a self-administered questionnaire in the 2017–2018 academic year. The questionnaire comprised of 12 items on stress factors and 10 items on coping strategies. The responses were measured quantitatively on a five-point Likert scale.
Result and Discussion: The response rate was high. Different stress factors and coping strategies were identified by students. The prevalence of perceived stress among medical students was high. This might affect not only their academic performance but also other aspects of their life as well. There is a wide range of strategies for coping with stress that could play an important role in helping students to cope with stress.

Keywords: Coping, medical students, stress

How to cite this article:
Fatima Z, Mushtaq S, Shaan F. Perception of stress and coping tactics among medical students at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. Arch Ment Health 2018;19:166-8

How to cite this URL:
Fatima Z, Mushtaq S, Shaan F. Perception of stress and coping tactics among medical students at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. Arch Ment Health [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Jun 5];19:166-8. Available from: https://www.amhonline.org/text.asp?2018/19/2/166/248880

  Introduction Top

Medical students feel extreme level of pressure and stress while meeting the excessive physical and emotional demands of the medical education. Reduction in leisure and recreational activity, decreased physical activity and lack of sleep are not only harmful for physical and psychological well-being of the students but may also adversely damage student behavior and weaken their learning skills, ultimately affecting patient care.[1] Academic challenges and emotionally tense experiences, such as dealing with illness, disease, and death which are part of medical education, make medical students more susceptible to stress and anxiety, leading to higher prevalence of depression and suicide in them.

Coping strategies are of utmost importance in preventing an individual from stress-related disorders. When dealing with stressors, medical students frequently adapt inadequate coping strategies like alcohol consumption and pessimism in place of choosing more positive, action-oriented ones, such as sportive activities or sharing feelings with friends and family.[2],[3],[4] Regehr et al.[5] analyzed the efficiency of various interventions helpful in reduction of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion among both medical doctors and medical trainees. It was found that symptoms of stress and anxiety in medical students and medical doctors can be effectively minimized using cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based approaches. These interventions may also contribute to lower levels of burnout in medical doctors.

There is a relative dearth of studies from the Indian subcontinent on how medical students perceive their stress and the coping tactics they use to tackle them, knowledge of which could be used in designing targeted psychotherapies. This study was designed keeping in mind the public health importance of its result.

  Materials and Methods Top

It is a cross-sectional study conducted on 200 1st-year medical students (130 males and 70 females) of the academic year 2017–2018 by completing a self-administered questionnaire in English, with 12 closed-ended questions on stress factors and 10 on coping strategies which required 3 min to complete. The questions were pilot tested before administration. Students were given detailed instructions on how to complete the questionnaire and were informed about the objectives of the study. They were assured of the confidentiality of their responses and that no harm or legal consequences would result from the study. The responses were scored quantitatively on a 5-point Likert scale. The data were collected on Microsoft Excel 2007 sheets as percentage distribution and analyzed with SPSS statistical package for social science version 20 (IBM, Armonk, NY, USA).

  Results and Discussion Top

Out of 200 1st-year medical students, 145 (105 males and 40 females) completed and returned the questionnaire. The most common stress factor was concern about course content (43.3% strongly agreed) as shown in [Table 1]. Other stress factors included lack of time to study the curriculum (33.8% strongly agreed), studying at night (31.0% strongly agreed), and heavy demand on students to study (46.9% agreed).
Table 1: Perception of stressors by 1st-year medical students

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Students disagreed that teachers' lack of time (39.3%) and having to take many tests at the same time (35.2%) were stressors, and almost half the respondents (44.8%) strongly disagreed that marriage and having children were a risk factor. [Table 1] shows that 54 students (37.2%) strongly agreed that getting together with family and friends was a coping strategy that helped them overcome stress, followed by going out to dinner (27.6%), eating well (34.8%), and avoiding comparing grades with other students (24.1%). A total of 58 students (40.0%) agreed that respecting their own physical limits was a coping strategy. In contrast, 48 (33.1%) disagreed that cooking was a coping strategy to overcome stress, followed by consultation with the Academic Guidance Office (31.0%) and the Student Rights Office (29.7%). Totally, 44 students (30.3%) strongly disagreed that watching Cricket games on television helped them overcome stress.

A number of effective interventions and stress management programs need to be conducted to enhance stress coping strategies among future doctors. Effective medical education and training that focuses on clinical teaching and training at the bedside can be highly valuable for future doctors apart from specific interventions promoting medical students' mental health comprising supervised practice of, like, relaxation techniques, to help future doctors during stress occurrence.

This study also has few limitations such as reporting bias and underrepresentation of female participants. Future studies with more female participants are needed, for the better understanding of emotional resilience and perceived symptoms. Furthermore, there is no comparison group from the general population using the same psychometric scales or from nonmedical students. The study does not use a tool to diagnose specific psychiatric disorders or definitive sleep disorders but only searches for the symptom.


The authors would like to thank the participated medical students in the research.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Wolf TM, Elston RC, Kissling GE. Relationship of hassles, uplifts, and life events to psychological well-being of Freshman medical students. Behav Med 1989;15:37-45.  Back to cited text no. 1
Park CL, Adler NE. Coping style as a predictor of health and well-being across the first year of medical school. Health Psychol 2003;22:627-31.  Back to cited text no. 2
Newbury-Birch D, Walshaw D, Kamali F. Drink and drugs: From medical students to doctors. Drug Alcohol Depend 2001;64:265-70.  Back to cited text no. 3
Cherkil S, Gardens SJ, Soman DK. Coping styles and its association with sources of stress in undergraduate medical students. Indian J Psychol Med 2013;35:389-93.  Back to cited text no. 4
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Regehr C, Glancy D, Pitts A, LeBlanc VR. Interventions to reduce the consequences of stress in physicians: A review and meta-analysis. J Nerv Ment Dis 2014;202:353-9.  Back to cited text no. 5


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