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Prevalence of Depression in Podiatric Medical Students

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Background

Although depression and depressive symptoms have been previously explored in various medical student cohorts, there has been a lack of formal investigation among podiatric medical students specifically. The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence and related characteristics of depression and depressive symptoms in podiatric medical students.

Methods

A mixed-methods approach was used. Students at a podiatric medical college were asked to complete the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Revised survey electronically each year for 4 consecutive years. Focus group sessions were also conducted to further explore topics related to depression and depressive symptoms.

Results

Surveys were completed by 271 of 539 potential respondents (50.3%). A total of 34.7% of respondents screened positive for depression or depressive symptoms, defined as meeting or exceeding the criteria for subthreshold depressive symptoms on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Revised. The prevalence was found to be lower in clinical students (third- and fourth-year students) and in students in committed relationships. Themes from the focus group sessions included the following: coping with stress, general health concerns, self-evaluation, action and preparation, and the use of campus resources.

Conclusions

Depression and depressive symptoms were commonly encountered in this podiatric medical student cohort. Future investigations may consider specific treatment and prevention strategies.

Western University of Health Sciences, College of Podiatric Medicine, Pomona, CA.

Corresponding author: David W. Shofler, DPM, Western University of Health Sciences, College of Podiatric Medicine, 309 E Second St, Pomona, CA 91766-1854. (E-mail: dshofler@westernu.edu)