Depression And Perceived Social Support In Asian American Medical Students

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Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities


Purpose: Recent data reported that 21.5% of medical students in the United States of America (USA) are Asian American (AA). With the growing focus on developing medical school wellness programs, authors conducted a systematic, nationwide survey to assess prevalence of depression among AA medical students with a focus on disaggregating the AA population. Methods: A survey tool comprised of PHQ-9 and depression history, and questions on social support were emailed to members of the Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association enrolled in a USA medical school during the 2016–2017 academic year. Participants were grouped as East Asian American (EAA), Southeast Asian American (SEAA), and South Asian American (SAA). We evaluated associations between depression and regional ethnicity, depression history, and perceived support. Results: A total of 457 AA medical students were surveyed. SAA medical students were more likely to endorse symptoms of depression than EAA students. Students who identified as female were more likely to endorse symptoms of depression than their male-identifying counterparts. There was no significant relationship between students’ perception of the support they received and their depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Medical school administration should be aware of the unique needs of the heterogeneous population that comprises AA medical students. SAA students and those who identify as female are more likely to endorse symptoms of depression than their AA counterparts. Further research must be done to evaluate the factors that influence the mental health needs of AA medical students.

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