Background: Medical students' distress during medical education has attract
ed increasing attention. It is unclear what kind of coping strategies are m
ost widely used and most adaptive in the different phases of the medical ed
ucation and career.
Purposes: Medical students' (N = 110) academic distress, coping, and achiev
ement strategies were explored during their 2.5-year preclinical training.
Methods: The students responded to inquiries at 3 points in time. Both ques
tionnaires and individual interviews were used.
Results: The time and coping strategies were associated with the students'
achievement strategies and stress symptoms. There was a significant increas
e of symptoms during the first 2 study years. Although a majority of the st
udents seemed to cope well with the stress, a subgroup with dysfunctional a
nd inadequate strategies was identified to be at risk for negative developm
Conclusions: More attention should be given to medical students' distress a
nd coping efforts during the first study years. Preventive measures by medi
cal educators are discussed.