Original Research

Resilience and coping strategies of undergraduate medical students at the University of the Free State

Lynette J. van der Merwe, Anja Botha, Gina Joubert
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 26 | a1471 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v26i0.1471 | © 2020 Lynette J. van der Merwe, Anja Botha, Gina Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 September 2019 | Published: 28 July 2020

About the author(s)

Lynette J. van der Merwe, Undergraduate Medical Programme Management, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Anja Botha, School of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa
Gina Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Medical studies place students at risk for burnout. Resilience enables students to cope with adversity. Students’ coping skills will ensure the well-being of future healthcare professisonals.

Objectives: This study investigated resilience and coping among undergraduate medical students.

Setting: Undergraduate students at the University of the Free State medical school.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed. Quantitative data regarding resilience (Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale), coping strategies (Brief COPE questionnaire) and relevant information were collected by means of an anonymous self-administered questionnaire.

Results: Five hundred students (pre-clinical n = 270; clinical n = 230; approximately 62% female) participated. Most students self-reported high resilience (84.6% pre-clinical; 91.8% clinical). Mean resilience scores were 72.5 (pre-clinical) and 75.4 (clinical). Clinical students had higher resilience scores, while black, pre-clinical, first-generation and female students scored lower.

Academic stress was most prominent (> 85%) and associated with lower resilience scores. Most students used adaptive coping strategies (e.g. instrumental or emotional support) associated with significantly increased resilience scores. Students who used dysfunctional strategies (e.g. substance abuse) had significantly lower resilience scores.

Conclusion: Associations between resilience scores and year of study, gender, ethnicity, levels and type of stress varied. Academic pressure was a major source of stress. Adaptive coping strategies were associated with higher resilience scores.


Keywords

medical studies; resilience; coping skills; burnout; stress factors

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Crossref Citations

1. Prevalence of Anxiety in Medical Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Rapid Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis
Isabel Lasheras, Patricia Gracia-García, Darren M. Lipnicki, Juan Bueno-Notivol, Raúl López-Antón, Concepción de la Cámara, Antonio Lobo, Javier Santabárbara
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health  vol: 17  issue: 18  first page: 6603  year: 2020  
doi: 10.3390/ijerph17186603