Background: The intensive training associated with health care education has been suggested to have unintended negative consequences on students' mental or emotional health that may interfere with the development of qualities deemed essential for proficient health care professionals. This longitudinal study examined the prevalence and severity of depressive symptoms among students at a chiropractic educational institution. Methods: Chiropractic students at all levels of training were surveyed at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College during the academic years of 2000/2001, 2001/2002, and 2002/2003. The measurement tool employed was the Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd edition (BDI-II). Previously established BDI-II cutoff scores were used to assess the severity of reported depression symptoms, and these were compared by sex and year of training. Results: The survey was completed by 1303 students (70%) over the 3 years of the study. The prevalence of depressive symptoms was nearly 25%, with 13.7% of respondents indicating a rating of mild depression, 7.1% indicating moderate depressive symptoms, and 2.8% indicating severe symptoms. Significant differences were found between years of training, with 2nd-year students having the highest prevalence of depressive symptoms, and sex, with females having a higher rate of symptoms. Conclusions: Chiropractic students surveyed at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College had high rates of depression similar to those measured in other health care profession students. Chiropractic educational institutions should be aware of this situation and are encouraged to emphasize students' awareness of their own personal health and well-being and their access to appropriate care, in addition to the same concerns for their future patients.

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About the Authors

Stuart Kinsinger is an associate professor, Aaron Puhl is a student (class of 2012), and Christine Reinhart is a student (class of 2012), all from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.