Background: This multisite, anonymous study assessed depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation in medical trainees (medical students and residents).
Method: In 2003–2004, the authors surveyed medical trainees at six sites. Surveys included content from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression scale (CES-D) and the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders (PRIME-MD) (measures for depression), as well as demographic content. Rates of reported major and minor depression and of suicidal ideation were calculated. Responses were compared by level of training, gender, and ethnicity.
Results: More than 2,000 medical students and residents responded, for an overall response rate of 89%. Based on categorical levels from the CES-D, 12% had probable major depression and 9.2% had probable mild/moderate depression. There were significant differences in depression by trainee level, with a higher rate among medical students; and gender, with higher rates among women (χ2 = 10.42, df = 2, and P = .005 and χ2 = 22.1, df = 2, and P < .001, respectively). Nearly 6% reported suicidal ideation, with differences by trainee level, with a higher rate among medical students; and ethnicity, with the highest rate among black/African American respondents and the lowest among Caucasian respondents (χ2 = 5.19, df = 1, and P = .023 and χ2 = 10.42, df = 3, and P = .015, respectively).
Conclusions: Depression remains a significant issue for medical trainees. This study highlights the importance of ongoing mental health assessment, treatment, and education for medical trainees.
Dr. Goebert is associate professor and associate director of research in psychiatry, University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dr. Thompson is medical director of women's health and program director of the cancer center, Queen's Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, and clinical associate professor, Department of Psychiatry University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, Hawaii. When the data were collected, she was director of clinical research, Queen's Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dr. Takeshita is associate professor and associate chair of clinical services in psychiatry, University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Dr. Beach is in private practice at the Cincinnati Center for Psychoanalysis, Cincinnati, Ohio. At the time the data were collected, she was assistant dean for student affairs, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mr. Bryson is director, GME Counseling, University of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Ephgrave is associate dean for students and curriculum, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa.
Dr. Kent is director of counseling services, University of Washington, School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Kunkel is assistant professor in psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Schechter is assistant dean for curriculum and student affairs, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Tate is clinical associate professor in psychiatry, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa.
Editor's Note: A commentary on this article appears on page 159.
Please see the end of this article for information about the authors.
Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Goebert, UH Department of Psychiatry, 1356 Lusitana Street, Fourth Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813; telephone: (808) 586-2900; fax: (808) 586-2940; e-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org).