We used an online survey to conduct a cross-sectional study on the professional identity and mental health of medical students from February 11 to 19, 2020. The online survey was conducted through the Wenjuanxing platform (https://www.wjx.cn/). In total, 6318 participants took part in the survey. After excluding incomplete questionnaires and the ones that were completed in less than three minutes, 6226 participants from 31 provinces and autonomous regions were included in the analysis.
Approval for the study was obtained from the Ethics Committee of Beijing HuiLongGuan Hospital. All of the participants provided online informed consent to participate in the study.
The professional identity questionnaire was designed to evaluate acknowledged factors (professional cognition, professional emotion, professional commitment, professional behavior, professional achievement, and professional value) of professional identity after consulting the relevant literature , which were then combined with the characteristics of medical students. One item was selected from each of the six dimensions of medical students’ professional identity scale , and a simple medical students’ professional identity scale (see Appendix A) was developed to evaluate professional identity. In this study, the Cronbach’s α was 0.857 and 0.890 before and after the pandemic, respectively.
Evaluation of career attitude was conducted by assessing medical students’ attitude after the pandemic (the following question was asked: Did you change your career attitude after the pandemic? 1. unchanged; 2. enhanced; 3. weakened). According to the results, we divided medical students into three groups (unchanged group, enhanced group, and weakened group).
Depressive symptoms within 14 days were screened using the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) , where each of the nine DSM-IV criteria were scored on a scale from 0 (“not at all”) to 3 (“nearly every day”). Cronbach’s α, in this case, was 0.87.
Anxiety symptoms within 14 days were screened using the 7-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7) , where items were rated from 0 (“not at all”) to 3 (“nearly every day”). Cronbach’s α, in this case, was 0.92.
Social support was assessed using the Social Support Rating Scale (SSRS) . A higher score indicated more social support. Final scores were categorized into three levels: “low,” “medium,” and “high.”
The dataset was analyzed using SPSS version 24.0 (IBM SPSS, IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA). Chi-square test was used to compare the changes in career attitude of medical students under different demographic categories. Results obtained from GAD-7, PHQ-9, and SSRS for the three groups of Medical students were also compared. Rank sum test was used to analyze differences in dimensions of professional identity among the three groups of medical students before and after the pandemic. Further, multivariate disordered logic regression was used to analyze the factors influencing change in career attitude. The level of significance was set at 0.05 (two-sided).