Background: Mental illnesses are widely acknowledged among medical students, at the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on medical students. The main purpose of this study to (1) determine the prevalence of mental disorders among medical students and their associated factors, and (2) to examine the effectiveness of cognitive behaviour therapy on mental health problems among medical students.
Methods: Between March and May 2021, we conducted a randomized controlled study on two phases among medical students at An-Najah National University. Data were collected using an online questionnaire and the Arabic version of the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). We also used the MEDAS tool to assess their Mediterranean Diet (MD) adherence. In the second phase, sixty-six student were recruited and assigned randomly to control and intervention groups. Intervention impact was assessed using 12-item General Health Questionnaire at two time points; baseline, and 8 weeks post-intervention. The interventional model used was the cognitive behavioral therapy, and the control group received no treatment.
Results: A total of 329 students were included in the analysis of the first phase of the study. Approximately 28% of students had mental health problems. We found a significant relationship between good mental health status with higher level of physical activity level, longer sleeping hours and shorter entertainment time (p< 0.05). In the second phase of the study, a total of 91 students were included. Overall, using CBT program showed a significant improvement in the outcome measures. At 8 weeks post-intervention, students had lower scores on total GHQ-12, depression and anxiety, and social dysfunction.
Conclusion: These findings propose that adequate attention must be paid to the mental health of medical students, and that CBT program can be used for the management of mental health problems among medical students.