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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


ALCORTA, Adelina et al. Measurement of psychosocial health in medical students: Validation of the Jefferson Medical College's Questionnaire in Mexico. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2008, vol.25, n.1, pp.101-119. ISSN 1668-7027.

The greater the psychosocial health, the greater is the well-being and the capacity for adaptation and overcoming problems and common life frustrations in family, relationships, and work. Medical students and practicing physicians, in comparison with the general population and that of other professions, are exposed to academic and professional stress and therefore are vulnerable to psychosocial health problems and certain specific dysfunctions that may compromise their physical, mental, and social health. In the field of psychosocial research in medical education, the key issue is to find relevant and psychometrically sound measures. The Jefferson Medical College's Psychosocial Questionnaire contains abridged versions of nine personality tests, as well as questions about respondents' relationships with parents in the first five years of life and with classmates in the early schooling. The scales in the questionnaire have shown satisfactory internal consistency reliability and construct validity through factor analysis. To our knowledge, in Mexico, there is not a specific questionnaire that measures psychosocial profile in a non-clinical population such as medical students. The present study adapted and translated the questionnaire from English to Spanish in order to evaluate its validity and reliability in Mexican medical students, to further learn its predictive validity of academic performance. In this study, we compared the factor structure in Mexico to the results obtained in the United States research. Implications for predicting academic and clinical performance of medical students and physicians were discussed. Study participants consisted of 3,603 matriculates at the Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (Mexico). Psychosocial measures included Loneliness, Test anxiety, General anxiety, Self-esteem, Extroversion, External locus of control, Neuroticism, Depression, Stressful life events, Perceptions of early relationships with mother and father, Peer relationships and Perception of health, used by researchers at Jefferson Medical College in the United States. The items were translated into Spanish and back translated from Spanish to English, following the guidelines for adaptation of instruments for psychological evaluation. The questionnaire was administered in the third month after admission of the students to the Medicine School in the students' usual classrooms, on a schedule and day set aside for it according to the school's administration program. They were assured of the strict confidentiality of the test scores and of the individual data. Dimensionality of 40 items of the eight brief psychosocial scales was assessed with factor analysis using the principal components extraction method and orthogonal rotation; the Depression Scale was not included in the factorial analysis because it was not shortened for the present study. Correlation coefficients and internal consistencies were calculated for all the scales. Unidimensionality and construct validity were confirmed for measures of Loneliness, Test anxiety, General anxiety, Self-esteem, and Extroversion. The pattern and direction of the scale correlations with external criterion measures supported the concurrent validity of some of the measures. Also, the magnitude and direction of the inter-scale correlations supported the convergent and discriminant validities with the exception of the External locus of control and Neuroticism scales. The results supported the psychometric properties of the scales useful for providing information for medical educators and mental health professionals in early detection of psychosocial problems. It is important to mention that in spite of frequent talk about the importance of health among college students, few schools of Medicine in Mexico and in Latin America actually promote empirical research and support detect problems and develop solutions once they are identified. The mental health professionals should be responsible for sharing their understanding. They are capable of helping faculty for optimizing mental health through allocation of educational and remedial resources when designing academic programs in agreement with necessities of their students.

Palabras clave : Medical education; Psychosocial measure; Validity.

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