Presentation at Australian Conference on Personality and Individual Differences,
Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, 7 - 8 December 2007
29th International Congress of Psychology
Berlin, Germany 20-25 July 2008
(International Journal of Psychology 43, 2008, 247)
Bore M, Ashley-Brown G, Gallagher E, Powis D (2007)
Bore M, Ashley-Brown G, Gallagher E, Powis D (2008)
Personality and the prevalence of psychiatric symptoms in medicine and psychology students.
Recent research has suggested that the mental health of medical practitioners and medical school students is poorer than the general population norms. Poor mental health has been associated with the Big 5 personality traits of high neuroticism, low agreeableness, low
conscientiousness, and introversion (e.g. Malouff et al. 2005) and with low self-control (Tangney et al. 2004). We administered the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI: Derogatis & Spencer, 1982) as a measure of mental health to medical school students (n = 270) and psychology students (n = 102). The Big 5 and self-control were significant predictors of poor mental health. However, the concerning issue is the high prevalence of psychiatric symptoms in both samples. In particular, 24% of 1st Year Psychology students and 31% of the 1st Year Medical students produced BSI global scores equal to or greater than the BSI norm for adult psychiatric inpatients. Developmental, psychometric and selection issues are discussed in relation to these findings.