Health Behaviors of Medical Students During the First Year of Medical School




Castillo, Marisa
Kalra, Kyle
Sori, Ermias
Stone, Chelsea
Trammell, Randall
Posey, Rachel
Jouett, Noah
Karpel, Lisa
Fulda, Kimberly
Smith, Michael


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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. However, the high stress of the academic environment of medical training makes students vulnerable to poor health behaviors. Research has shown that there is an association between high stress environments and poor health behaviors, thus this study is a follow-up on our previous studies to study this relation further. Hypothesis: We hypothesized that the number of days per week spent exercising decreases, and that consumption of alcoholic drinks and energy drinks increases early in medical school and remain changed during the first year of medical school. Methods: This study was approved by the UNTHSC IRB. The study involved the administration of a health behavior survey via Qualtrics to medical students on three different occasions during the first year of medical school. The survey was administered the week before beginning of medical school (n=191), during the 3rd week of classes (n=104) and during the last 2 weeks of the semester (n=99). Data analyses of the three surveys only included the students who completed all three surveys (n=90). Repeated measures ANOVA was used to compare number days per week of exercise, number of alcoholic drinks consumed per week, and the number of 8oz servings of energy drinks consumed per day. An alpha level of less than .05 was considered significant. Results: Results: Of the participants, 46.7% of the students were male and 53.3% were females ranging from ages 21-38. There was a significant increase in the number of alcohol drinks consumed/week (p0.05). Conclusion: Consistent with the proposed hypotheses, we found that within the first 3 weeks of medical school, students significantly decreased their participation in exercise activities and increased their alcohol consumption. There was also a modest increase in the number of energy drinks consumed per day. In order to decrease these behaviors in first medical students, we must build awareness. The healthier the future doctors of America are, the better role models they become for their patients.