Depression and its associated factors: perceived stress, social support, substance use and related sociodemographic risk factors in medical school residents in Nairobi, Kenya

Sayed Shah Nur Hussein Shah, Ahmed Laving, Violet Caroline Okech-Helu, Manasi Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Little data exists regarding depression and its associated factors in medical residents and doctors in Sub-Saharan Africa. Residents are at high risk of developing depression owing to the stressful nature of their medical practice and academic training. Depression in medical residents leads to decreased clinical efficiency, and poor academic performance; it can also lead to substance abuse and suicide. Our primary aim was to measure depression prevalence among medical residents in Kenya’s largest national teaching and referral hospital. Secondary aims were to describe how depression was associated with perceived stress, perceived social support, substance use, and educational environment. Methods: We sampled 338 residents belonging to 8 different specialties using self administered questionnaires in this cross-sectional survey between October 2019 and February 2020. Questionnaires included: sociodemographics, the Centres for Epidemiology Depression Scale - Revised, Perceived Stress Scale, Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test, and Postgraduate Hospital Educational Environment Measure. Bivariate and multivariate linear regression were used to assess for risk factors for depression. Results: Mean participant age was 31.8 years and 53.4% were males. Most residents (70.4%) reported no to mild depressive symptoms, 12.7% had moderate, and 16.9% had severe depressive symptoms. Most residents had high social support (71.8%) and moderate stress (61.6%). The educational environment was rated as more positive than negative by 46.3% of residents. Bivariate analyses revealed significant correlations between depressive symptoms, perceived stress, substance use, perceived social support, and educational environment. Multivariate analysis showed that depression was strongly associated with: fewer hours of sleep (β = − 0.683, p = 0.002), high perceived stress (β = 0.709, p < 0.001) and low perceived social support (β = − 2.19, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Only 30% of medical residents in our study had moderate and severe depressive symptoms. Most residents in our study reported high levels of social support, and moderate levels of stress. Though their overall appraisal of medical residency experience was positive, mental health support and self-care skills in the training of medical professionals needs prioritization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number444
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Depression
  • Doctors
  • Educational environment
  • Kenya
  • Medical residents
  • Mental health
  • Perceived stress
  • Social support
  • Substance abuse


Dive into the research topics of 'Depression and its associated factors: perceived stress, social support, substance use and related sociodemographic risk factors in medical school residents in Nairobi, Kenya'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this