Health Behavior Changes Among First Year Medical Students a Pre- and Post- Analysis




Kalra, Kyle
Sori, Ermias
Castillo, Marisa
Stone, Chelsea
Trammell, Randall
Fulda, Kimberly
Smith, Michael L.


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Background: Entering medical students begin their journey into medicine with the desire of being a healthcare professional whose healthy habits serve as a model for their patients. In truth, the high stress of the academic environment of medical training makes students vulnerable to poor health behaviors. Research has shown that there is a correlation between high stress environments and poor health behaviors. This study is a follow-up to that research. Hypothesis: We hypothesized that first year medical students consumption of energy drinks is associated with less positive health behaviors upon reassessment during medical school. Methods: The study involved the administration via Qualtrics of two surveys to the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2018. The pre-survey, was distributed during the 3rd week of class which was completed by 135 students when there were no impending exams. The participation in the survey was voluntary, and the subjects were recruited by the following methods: announcement in class, announcement on social media, and announcement via email to the Class of 2018. The survey was re-administered during the last 2 weeks of the semester, and it was completed by 99 students. Data analyses of the two surveys only included the students who completed both surveys (n=49). To compare pre- and post- variables of typical hours per sleep in a 24-hour day, days per week exercised (≤2 days or ≥3 days), changes in reported GI symptoms, and whether the subject consumed energy drinks in the past month (yes or no), the nonparametric McNemar’s test was used. An alpha level of less than .05 was considered significant. The Perceived Stress Scale between pre- and post-measurement surveys were compared with a dependent sample T-test. Results: 63% of the students were male and 37% were females ranging from ages 22-41 with a mean age of 25.3+3.6. General trends included an increase in energy drink consumption, reported headaches/palpitations and GI symptoms, and decrease in sleep hours per day. Statistically, there was a significant increase in energy drink consumption (from 26.5% at pre-test to 42.9%, p=0.008), and an increase in gastrointestinal symptoms (from 16.3% at pre-test to 34.7%, p=0.012). Conclusion: An increase in energy drink consumption and gastrointestinal symptoms supports our hypothesis that first year medical students consumption of energy drinks is associated with less positive health behaviors.