Comparison of programs regarding stress management and specific counselling services, including their effectiveness, for medical students in the USA and Germany
An ever-increasing prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress perception exists regarding medical students in comparison to other same aged peer groups, not only in Germany but also in the United States. Forty-eight United States medical schools were identified to be directly addressed per email requesting further information regarding their ... programs, by performing an impact focused literature research of PubMed as well as a website search of all 147 United States medical schools at the time, reviewing the available resources and publications. The email responses were evaluated and examined for format, time duration, participants and possible evaluations, and compared to German publications focused on this issue up through the year 2017. The German findings were further updated by reviewing the websites of all German medical schools to include all services offered up to the fall of 2018. Results show that both countries, the United States as well as Germany, have recognized the importance of this issue and have begun to address it. Eighty six percent of German medical schools offer some type of stress reduction service to their students, while sixty eight percent of US American schools do as well. Mentoring and advising services are widespread in both countries. While the United States focuses on extracurricular wellness activities and a wide variety of services emphasizing the teachings of mindfulness, German universities are concentrating their stress relief efforts on structured programs geared especially towards stress reduction. After sending out inquiries to selected US American schools for further information, a low response rate of thirty-seven percent was recorded. Only ten medical schools decided to contribute. Two correspondents stated evaluations are being conducted. Even though steps are being taken and more programs are being implemented each year, there is still a shortage. The United States should elaborate on holistic programs while Germany should expand on their offer of extracurricular services. Furthermore, the effectiveness and efficiency of the already established courses should be assessed by more comprehensive evaluations. Overall, an improved cooperation between the medical schools across each country should be pursued, maximizing the effects of each program on the mental health of medical students.