Mental health disturbance in preclinical medical students and its association with screen time, sleep quality, and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Tjhin Wiguna, Valerie Josephine Dirjayanto, Zhahna Siti Maharani, Emir Gibraltar Faisal, Sylvie Dominic Teh, Erik Kinzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Affected by various hurdles during COVID-19, preclinical medical students are at an elevated risk for mental health disturbances. However, the effects of modern mental health problems on preclinical medical students have not been adequately researched. Thus, this study was aimed to identify the proportions and implications of current mental health problems for depression, sleep quality and screen time among Indonesian medical preclinical students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted using crowdsourcing between October 2020 and June 2021. During the study period, 1,335 subjects were recruited, and 1,023 datasets were identified as valid. General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12) was used to measure current mental health disturbances (categorized as without current mental health disturbances, psychological distress, social dysfunction, or both). The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was used to assess depression, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was employed to assess sleep quality, and a questionnaire devised for this study was used to assess screen time length per day. Multivariate data analysis was conducted using SPSS version 24 for Mac. Results: According to the findings, 49.1% of the 1,023 participants had current mental health disturbances: 12.8% had psychological distress, 15.9% had social dysfunction, and the rest (20.4%) had both psychological distress and social dysfunction. The statistical analysis provided strong evidence of a difference (p < 0.001) between the medians of depression and sleep quality with at least one pair of current mental health disturbance groups, but the difference for screen time was not significant (p = 0.151). Dunn’s post-hoc analysis showed that groups without current mental health problems had significantly lower mean ranks of depression and sleep quality compared to groups that had current mental health problems (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Current mental health disturbances during the COVID-19 pandemic were significantly associated with preclinical medical students’ depression and sleep quality in preclinical medical students. Thus, mental health programs for this specific population should be tailored to integrate mindfulness therapy, support groups, stress management, and skills training to promote mental wellbeing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number85
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


  • COVID-19
  • Depression
  • Indonesia
  • Medical students
  • Mental health
  • Screen time
  • Sleep quality


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