Category: Professional Posters
Purpose: Students enrolled in graduate school programs, such as the Doctor of Pharmacy Program, may experience a high degree of stress due to an intensive workload coupled with economic and social factors. Experiencing one or a combination of these stressors can result in depression or worsen existing depression. The incidence of depression and possible interventions have been studied in other college student populations; however, they have not been extensively studied in the pharmacy student population. With this data, we can potentially identify the population at risk and implement specific programs as well as reinforce resources to deal with this mental illness.
Methods: In a time-series study conducted during 2018, pharmacy students from the University of Louisiana Monroe College of Pharmacy were invited to participate in a series of online surveys (administered in June 2018, September 2018, and April 2019) via the professional online survey software eSurveysPro. The significance of the time-series design was to assess and compare depressive symptoms at different time points in the students’ fourth year. A link to a survey of 6 demographic questions and 10 depressive symptoms questions was emailed to all fourth year pharmacy students. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board. After providing informed consent, each participant then reported demographic data and information on perceived family support. The survey incorporated the 9-item depression screening component of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), and descriptive statistics were then used to report the rates of depression and depressive symptoms.
Results: There were 44, 16, and 11 respondents in the June, September, and April surveys, respectively. The overall response rate ranged from 11.8% to 32.8%. Also,18.2% of students from the June survey, 5.9% of students from the September survey, and none of the students from the April survey had a history of depression. Only 9.1% and 5.9% in the June and September surveys admitted to being on medication for depression. Among respondents to the June survey, 47.7% reported depressive symptoms, with 22.7% being classified as moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms. Among respondents to the September survey, 75% reported depressive symptoms, with 43.8% classified as moderate to moderately severe. In the April survey, 45.5% of respondents had depressive symptoms with 27.3% of all participants having moderate to moderately severe symptoms. The rates of severe depressive symptoms were lower in the June survey (6.8%) compared to the September and April surveys (0%). In regard to the ability to do work, perform activities of daily living, and interact with other people, 16% of respondents reported these actions to be very to extremely difficult in the June survey. For September and April surveys, 12.5% and 18.1% reported the same outcome.
Conclusion: As indicated by the responses provided by current fourth year pharmacy students, depressive symptoms are present in this population. These symptoms and the effect on their daily lives remain prevalent over the course of several months. However, some limitations exist in this study, including a low response rate to the second and third surveys, a limited study population, an inability to recognize duplicate responses, and survey fatigue. It is our hope that this data can be used as the foundation for future depression outreach programs for pharmacy students.