To evaluate the effects of a cognitive-behavioral skills building program (ie, MINDSTRONG; The Ohio State University) on the mental health outcomes and healthy lifestyle beliefs and behaviors of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students.
DVM students (n = 62) before beginning their program at a large public Midwest land-grant university.
All 171 incoming DVM students (class of 2024) were required to take the cognitive-behavioral skills building program (7 weeks in length) before starting their 2020 school year. Students were given the option to consent to the study portion of the program. Consenting participants completed a pre- and postsurvey containing demographic questions and 5 valid and reliable scales, including the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 that assesses depressive symptoms, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 that evaluates anxiety, the Brief Inventory of Perceived Stress that measures stress, and the Healthy Lifestyle Beliefs and Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors scales. Descriptive statistics described sample characteristics, paired t tests assessed changes over time in the outcomes Personal Wellness Assessment, and Cohen’s d determined effect sizes.
62 DVM students completed both surveys. Postintervention, students had significant improvements in depressive symptoms, anxiety, and healthy lifestyle beliefs and behaviors.
Although this study used a small convenience sample of DVM students from a single university, a cognitive-behavioral skills building program demonstrated the ability to decrease rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation and improve healthy lifestyle beliefs and behaviors. Requiring DVM students to participate in such programming could provide benefit during their professional education and throughout their careers.