Study demands and resources affect academic well-being and life satisfaction of undergraduate medical students in the Netherlands

Renee Scheepers*, Femke Hilverda, Manja Vollmann

*Corresponding author for this work

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Medical students report poor academic well-being in a context of high study demands. Study Demands–Resources theories have outlined mediating processes involving high study demands and low resources to mitigate academic well-being, which is subsequently associated with diminished overall well-being (i.e. life satisfaction). Furthermore, academic well-being and life satisfaction are also affected by interactions between study demands and resources (referred to as moderating processes). However, these mediating and moderating processes clarifying medical students' well-being still need to be investigated. Therefore, this study investigated the mediating role of academic well-being in the associations of study demands and resources with life satisfaction and the moderating role of study demands and resources in relation to academic well-being and life satisfaction among undergraduate medical students.

In this cross-sectional survey study, 372 undergraduates from Dutch medical schools participated. The survey included the Study Demands–Resources Scale (workload, growth opportunities and peer support) as well as questionnaires on academic well-being (Utrecht Burnout Scale for students and Utrecht Work Engagement Scale-Student Form) and overall well-being (single item on life satisfaction). Based on Study Demands–Resources theories, (moderated) mediation analyses were performed.

Mediating processes were found as growth opportunities were indirectly associated with higher life satisfaction through lower academic burnout and higher academic engagement. Furthermore, workload was indirectly associated with lower life satisfaction through higher academic burnout. This association was moderated as it became weaker with more perceived peer support.

A high workload and limited growth opportunities are associated with suboptimal academic well-being and life satisfaction. Perceiving support from peer students slightly buffers the unfavourable effect of workload on academic burnout and subsequently life satisfaction. To promote academic well-being and life satisfaction in medical students, universities can consider to reduce the workload, to create a supportive learning environment and to offer development opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Medical Education published by Association for the Study of Medical Education and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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