Change in Subjective Well-Being in medical school over 20 years: the characteristics of the most satisfied students of today
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Abstract Background: Studies on medical students have mainly focused on the negative aspects of student stress and its consequences. It is equally important to gain knowledge on positive factors within the study environment and faculty that can facilitate student health and performance and whether student well-being has changed along with the constant emphasize on study revisions. This knowledge can provide the basis of empirically founded study revisions to improve medical education. Methods: Data was based on a cross sectional survey (N =1044) among all medical students at two different medical faculties in Norway in 2015. The response rate was 63.9% (1044/1635). Comparison data of student well-being was derived from a longitudinal study of medical students from 1993 to 1999. Subjective well-being was measured with three items from the four-item SWB-scale. The study analyse the relative influence of individual, study environmental and curriculum factors on subjective well-being. The associations were tested by linear regression analysis. Results: Norwegian medical students scored high on subjective well-being. However, there was a decrease in well-being among today’s medical students at all three stages in medical school compared with the sample surveyed 20 years ago. Students in faculty I scored higher on subjective well-being than students in faculty II. Associated factors of subjective well-being among today’s medical students was self-esteem (β = .30, p = .000), study environment (β = -.22, p < .001), personal competence (β = -.21, p < .001), finances and living situation (β = -.12, p = .001) and social support (β = .13, p = .003) from medical school friends. Conclusion: The study confirms that factors within the study environment and differences in the study curriculum contribute to well-being among medical students. The results give important suggestion to maintain high well-being among medical students as an important foundation for student satisfaction, health and performance.