Does coaching in the 3rd year of medical school affect stress, anxiety and depression?

Journal Article


Medical students experience significant stress and anxiety during undergraduate education. Coaching is a possible way of supporting these students throughout this challenging time. To assess the benefits of coaching for medical students, a pilot study providing coaching was performed. This pilot assessed how coaching affected the mental health of medical students and how coaching was received by them.


Twelve third-year medical students were each given eight 30-60 minute coaching sessions. Each participant took the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) pre-, mid-and post-coaching. After coaching, there were three open-ended questions to measure the reactions to coaching and a scale to determine the likelihood of accessing coaching in the future.


There was a significant effect of coaching on perceived stress(p=.023); a trend toward significant effect of coaching on anxiety(p=.057); and no effect of coaching on depression. Qualitative analysis indicated Affective responses (gaining perspective and self-awareness); Cognitive responses (goal setting and working through solving problems); and Skills responses (developing reflection abilities and critical thinking). Attributes of coaching included perceiving coaching as a positive, individualized and supportive experience that students were highly likely to access again.


Coaching holds promise as an intervention offered to medical students to reduce stress and anxiety, and provide positive support for students, preparing them for their professional futures.

Key Points

Appreciate the stress and anxiety that medical students manage in medical school. Coaching is an option that holds promise to support medical students. Coaching has possible long-term outcomes that could help future physicians navigate their professional paths more effectively. Students value individualized, positive support during medical school

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ross, E; Faw, T; Covington, K

Published Date

  • 2021

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/2021.07.13.21260303