Differences in Stress Perception of Medical Students Depending on In-Person Communication and Online Communication during the COVID−19 Pandemic: A Japanese Cross-Sectional Survey

Kazuki Tokumasu, Yoshito Nishimura, Yoko Sakamoto, Mikako Obika, Hitomi Kataoka, Fumio Otsuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Excessive psychological stress in medical students affects their mental health and causes problems such as burnout and depression. Furthermore, changes in the learning environment to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic have had a psychological effect on medical students. However, the relationships between medical students’ perceived stress and different methods of communication, including in-person and online communication, remain unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in stress perception of medical students depending on in-person communication and online communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This study was a cross-sectional study conducted from September to October in 2020. All of the students of Okayama University School of Medicine were asked to participate in a questionnaire survey. The explanatory variables were the frequency and length of communications with others (by in-person or online communication), empathy, and lifestyle. The main outcome measure was perceived stress. Subgroup analysis was conducted for students who preferred to be by themselves and students who preferred to study together and interact with other people. Univariate analysis and multivariate multiple regression analysis were conducted. Gender and grade, which have been shown to be associated with stress in previous studies, were used as covariates for multiple regression analysis. Results: Valid responses to the questionnaire survey were received from 211 (29.4%) of the 717 students. There was no significant association between perceived stress and online communication, but the number of people with which students had in-person communication (1–2 people compared to 0 as a control, regression coefficient [B] = −4.4, 95% confidence interval [CI]; −7.8, −1.1, more than 10 people, B = −12, 95% CI: −18, −5.8) and the length of communication (more than 120 min, B = −4.5, 95% CI: −8.1, −0.92) were associated with a reduction in perceived stress. In subgroup analysis, the number of people with in-person communication and the length of communication had significant associations with stress reduction even in the group of students who had a preference for being by themselves. Conclusion: In-person communications rather than online communications were associated with a lower level of perceived stress. In subgroup analysis, this trend was statistically significant in the group of students who had a preference for being by themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1579
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • in-person communication
  • medical education
  • medical student
  • online communication
  • stress perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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