Prevalence and Socio-Demographic Correlates of Mental Health Problems Among Iranian Health Sciences Students

  • Batool Tayefi
  • Mehrdad Eftekhar
  • Maryam Tayefi
  • Susan Darroudi
  • Narjes Khalili
  • Azadeh Mottaghi
  • Zarrintaj Hosseinzadeh Shanjani
  • Marzieh NojomiEmail author
In Brief Report



The primary objective of the present study was to compare the mental health status of Iranian medical vs other health sciences students and to examine how demographic factors relate to their mental health problems.


A total of 560 medical and other health sciences students (250 (44.6%) males and 310 (55.4%) females) were recruited from Iran University of Medical Sciences. Data were obtained by self-administered questionnaire, including questions on socio-demographic characteristics. The Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, General Health Questionnaire, and WHO well-being index were used to assess mental health status of students.


Ten percent of students had BDI scores consistent with clinically significant depression (6.6% mild, 1.8% moderate, 1.6% severe), and 28.7% had BAI scores consistent with clinically significant anxiety (20.7% mild, 7.1% moderate, 0.9% severe). Kurdish students had an odds ratio (OR) of 2.71 (95% CL, 1.22–6.02) for mild to severe depression symptoms when compared to Persian students. The prevalence of distressed health sciences students and poor psychological well-being was 13.4% and 14.1%, respectively. Maternal education gave an OR of 0.57 (0.35–0.93) for anxiety symptoms, after adjustment for all other factors. The possibility of general psychiatric morbidity was significantly lower in students who studied medicine (OR, 0.40 (0.21–0.71)). Being born in the capital city was associated with better psychological well-being (OR, 0.48 (0.26–0.86)).


Ethnicity, birthplace, discipline, and maternal educational level were major determinants of mental health status among health sciences students. Further research should be undertaken to determine the prevalence of psychological disorders using more reliable diagnostic interview.


Mental health problems Prevalence Socio-demographic correlates Iranian university students 



The authors acknowledge with grateful appreciation the kind assistance provided by Iran University of Medical Sciences (IUMS).

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Iran University of Medical Sciences (IUMS).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The protocol was approved by the ethics committee of Iran University of Medical Sciences (IUMS).


On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Batool Tayefi
    • 1
  • Mehrdad Eftekhar
    • 1
  • Maryam Tayefi
    • 2
  • Susan Darroudi
    • 2
  • Narjes Khalili
    • 1
  • Azadeh Mottaghi
    • 1
  • Zarrintaj Hosseinzadeh Shanjani
    • 3
  • Marzieh Nojomi
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Iran University of Medical SciencesTehranIran
  2. 2.Mashhad University of Medical SciencesMashhadIran
  3. 3.Zanjan University of Medical SciencesZanjanIran
  4. 4.Preventive Medicine and Public Health Research CenterTehranIran

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