Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the psychological distress of medical students in Japan: Cross-sectional survey study

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53 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected medical education. However, little data are available about medical students' distress during the pandemic. Objective: This study aimed to provide details on how medical students have been affected by the pandemic. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted. A total of 717 medical students participated in the web-based survey. The survey included questions about how the participants' mental status had changed from before to after the Japanese nationwide state of emergency (SOE). Results: Out of 717 medical students, 473 (66.0%) participated in the study. In total, 29.8% (141/473) of the students reported concerns about the shift toward online education, mostly because they thought online education would be ineffective compared with in-person learning. The participants' subjective mental health status significantly worsened after the SOE was lifted (P<.001). Those who had concerns about a shift toward online education had higher odds of having generalized anxiety and being depressed (odds ratio [OR] 1.97, 95% CI 1.19-3.28) as did those who said they would request food aid (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.16-3.44) and mental health care resources (OR 3.56, 95% CI 2.07-6.15). Conclusions: Given our findings, the sudden shift to online education might have overwhelmed medical students. Thus, we recommend that educators inform learners that online learning is not inferior to in-person learning, which could attenuate potential depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25232
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Anxiety
  • COVID-19
  • Depression
  • Medical student
  • Online education
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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