Purpose The purpose of this study was to determine the current known prevalence and risk factors for anxiety in medical and allied health profession students. The framing question for this systematic review was, “What is the prevalence of and mitigation of risk factors for anxiety among medical and allied health profession students?” Method CINAHL, Medline, PsychInfo, and SportDiscus were searched for peer-reviewed English-language articles published between January 2000 to October 2020 reporting primary data on anxiety in U.S. and Canadian medical and allied health students. Searches used combinations of Medical Subject Heading terms students, allied health, nursing, medical, athletic training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant, anxiety, anxiety disorders, stress, psychological distress, or emotional regulation. Reference lists were inspected to identify additional relevant articles. Demographic information, instruments used, prevalence data, risk factors, and qualitative findings on student anxiety were abstracted. Results The search identified eleven studies that met the authors’ criteria. Most studies were cross- sectional surveys that evaluated various categories of psychological distress and associated behaviors. The studies suggest a wide range of prevalence rates of clinically significant anxiety with inconclusive results when differences in rates of anxiety by gender, age, class year or school were assessed. Clinical experience, time management, coping strategies, social support, and academic performance were all found to be risk factors associated with student’s anxiety. Conclusion Medical and allied health education can be a time that contributes to psychological distress in students. Prevalence, prevention, and management of anxiety, stress, and depression should be explored further, particularly within allied health professions to provide better insight into how educators can provide support to their students. Additionally, the ability to identify students at risk for anxiety and other mental health problems may be an important step in prevention moving forward.

Author Bio(s)

Samantha A. Scott, PhD, ATC, is an Assistant Professor of Athletic Training and Health Sciences in the College of Health and Human Services at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, CT. She is also a state licensed and BOC certified athletic trainer.


I want to thank and acknowledge Dr. Daniel Smith, and Dr. Jessica Barrett (Springfield College, Springfield, MA) for their guidance and expertise in the development of this systematic review.



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