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Mental distress in Australian medical students and its association with housing and travel time

Nerissa Li-Wey Soh, Sanna Norgren, Lisa Lampe, Glenn E Hunt, Gin S Malhi, Garry Walter.

Objectives: To investigate the assocation between mental distress in medical students and their accommodation and time spent commuting to their study sites.
Methods: An anonymous online survey of students enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia, measuring mental distress levels (Kessler-10), housing circumstances, travel time and demographics.
Results: Mental distress was significantly higher in females, younger students, international students, those who were renting as opposed to living in their family homes or their own homes, and in those who had longer travel times to their sites of study.
Conclusions: Accommodation circumstances and travel times are factors associated with mental distress which can be altered, unlike gender and age. Universities should look into ways to provide affordable accommodation and more of it to medical students, nearer to their sites of study. In addition, orientation programmes and university support and counselling services should take accommodation, travel duration, age, gender and whether a student is international or domestic into account when supporting students and emphasize strategies to manage these sources of stress.

Key words: Medical student, mental distress, travel time, housing; Kessler-10

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