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Perceptions and intentions relating to seeking help for depression among medical undergraduates in Sri Lanka: a cross-sectional comparison with non-medical undergraduates

Perceptions and intentions relating to seeking help for depression among medical undergraduates in Sri Lanka: a cross-sectional comparison with non-medical undergraduates

Bmc Medical Education 15: 162

This study attempts to understand whether medical undergraduates in Sri Lanka would seek help for depression. This was done by examining their perceptions and intentions relating to seeking help for depression, using the responses of non-medical undergraduates as the baseline for comparison. Medical (nā€‰=ā€‰620) and non-medical undergraduates (nā€‰=ā€‰4050) at the University of Colombo responded to a questionnaire which included a vignette about a depressed undergraduate, a depression measure, an open-ended question examining their intentions to seek help if affected by the problem described in the vignette, and scales examining their perceptions about the helpfulness of various help-seeking options for dealing with the problem. The latter items were also administered among mental health professionals to assess expert opinion on dealing with depression. Logistic regression models were used to examine if medical undergraduates differed from non-medical undergraduates in their rates of depression, help-seeking perceptions and help-seeking intentions. These models were also used to examine if being depressed was associated with differences in the help-seeking perceptions and intentions of medical undergraduates. Medical and non-medical undergraduates did not differ in their odds of being depressed. Overall, the medical undergraduates were more likely to appraise professional help positively. However, they did not differ from non-medical undergraduates in relation to their intentions to seek such help if affected by the problem personally. They were also more likely to indicate their intentions to seek help from parents and family. Furthermore, medical undergraduates who screened positive for Major Depression were less likely to appraise some of the recommended professional and informal help-seeking options as being 'helpful', with only 50 % considering that it was 'unhelpful' to deal with the problem alone. There was also no difference in their help-seeking intentions as compared to those screening negative for Major Depression. Although medical training seems to be associated with better help-seeking beliefs, interventions are needed to improve these medical undergraduates' intentions to personally seek professional help for depression. It is concerning that medical undergraduates who are depressed might be less likely to consider it beneficial to seek help and instead, deal with the problem alone.

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Accession: 058524521

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26419827

DOI: 10.1186/s12909-015-0453-8

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