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“TRAIT” level of perceived anxiety and effect of instrumental background music after induced stress test on “STATE” level of perceived anxiety in students from different ethnic groups - A randomized control trial

Shantala Shripad Herlekar, Savita Hiremath.


Background: Stress in medical students is well known, but ethnic variations in general-anxiety levels and effect of instrumental music, in relation to stress test, on anxiety in these ethnicities remain obscure.

Aims and Objectives: The aim is to study “TRAIT” anxiety levels and effect of instrumental music after induced stress on “STATE” anxiety levels in Indian and Malaysian 1st year medical students.

Materials and Methods: A total of 60 Indian and 60 Malaysian 1st year medical students were randomized into music and control group equally. “STATE” and “TRAIT” forms of State Triat Anxiety Inventory were used in pre-test. After 30 min of classical-instrumental background music/control session along with induced stress test, the “STATE” form was repeated as post-test.

Results: TRAIT score of >40 was observed in all medical students which was considered very anxious. Scores were significantly high in Malaysian boy (44.7 ± 11.71) (P < 0.05). Post-test STATE scores showed a rise of +3.2 points in control group and decline in music group by −1.7 (P = 0.007). Highest post-test scores were in Malaysian control group (39.2 ± 10.56). Fall in post-test scores was seen in all three groups except Malaysian control group which showed a significant rise (P < 0.001). Indian control group scored an average of 32.4 ± 8.77 compared to Malaysian control group (39 ± 10.56) in post-test (P = 0.009).

Conclusion: From our study, we can say that all Medical students from different ethnic groups perceive very high anxiety generally. Malaysian students perceive it much higher than Indian students. Classical instrumental background music with slower rhythms helps to reduce anxiety associated while performing a challenging task and can induce relaxed state in medical students irrespective of their ethnicity and preference. This kind of music can be used between lectures to relax students.

Key words: Ethnicity; State Trait Anxiety Inventory; Instrumental Music; 1st year MBBS; State Trait Anxiety Inventory-STATE; State Trait Anxiety Inventory-TRAIT

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