Loneliness, Hopelessness, Anxiety and Self Compassion of Medical Students: Gazi Example

  • Işıl İrem Budakoglu Gazi University School of Medicine Department of Medical Education
  • Nazan Karaoğlu
  • Özlem Coşkun
Keywords: Loneliness, hopelessness, anxiety, self-compassion, medical education


Objective: Describing the preclinical medical students’ loneliness, state and trait anxiety and hopelessness levels and comparing them with self-compassion levels were the aims of this study.Methods: On voluntary basis an anonymous questionnaire consisting of UCLA Loneliness Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Beck Hopelessness Scale and Self Compassion Scale, as well as socio demographic questions, was administered to every one out of five preclinical-year students (n=935) at Gazi University School of Medicine.  Results: Approximately half of (54.2%) the students were female and the mean age of the sample was19.4±1.1 years (range: 17-25 years). The 34.7 % of the sampled students were living with their family. Loneliness, trait anxiety and the hopelessness levels of the students who were not satisfied with their career selection were significantly higher than chance (p<0.05). While loneliness, state and trait anxiety and hopelessness scores were in a positive correlation with each other, self compassion was in a negative correlation with state anxiety.Conclusion: Self compassion can be described as coping with the stressors at various stages of life. Therefore, medical profession should begin with fostering self-compassion before the compassion toward others. 


Wear D, Zarconi J. Can compassion be taught? Let’s ask our students. J Gen Intern Med 2007; 23: 948-53.

Sit SW. Professionalism in vogue. Can Fam Physician 2009;55:1183.

Neumann M, Edelhäuser F, Tauschel D, Fischer MR, Wirtz M, Woopen C et.al. Empathy decline and its reasons: a systematic review of studies with medical students and residents. Acad Med 2011;86: 996-1009.

Newton BW, Barber L, Clardy J, Cleveland E, O'Sullivan P. Is there hardening of the heart during medical school? Acad Med 2008; 83: 244-9.

Yeo M. Do FPs agree on what professionalism is? Yes. Can Fam Physician 2009; 55: 968-70.

Jacobson L, Hawthorne K, Wood F. The ‘Mensch’ factor in general practice: a role to demonstrate professionalism to students. Brit J Gen Pract 2006; 56: 976-9.

Alvi T, Assad F, Ramzan M, Khan FA. Depression, anxiety and their associated factors among medical students. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak 2010; 20: 122-6.

Karaoglu N & Seker M. Anxiety and depression levels of preclinic years’ medical students and probable effective factors. TAF Prev Med Bull 2011; 10: 303-12.

Eller T, Aluoja A, Vasar V, Veldi M. Syptoms of anxiety and depression in Estonian medical students with sleep problems. Depress Anxiety 2010; 23: 250-6.

Karaoglu N & Seker M. Is Medical Education Really Stressful? A prospective study in Selcuk University, Turkey. Kuwait Med J 2012; 44: 104-12.

Dyrbye LN, Thomas MR, Shanafelt TD. Systematic review of depression, anxiety, and other indicators of psychological distress among U.S. and Canadian medical students. Acad Med 2006; 81: 354–73.

Shapiro J. Walking a mile in their patients' shoes: empathy and othering in medical students' education. Philos Ethics Humanit Med 2008; 3: 10.

Bizjak MČ. Symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger and sexual concern and the role of some demographic characteristics among Slovenian youth: A cross sectional study. Zdrav Var 2012; 51: 105-11.

Swami V, Chamorro-Premuzic T, Sinniah D, Maniam T, Kannan K, Stanistreet D et.al. General health mediates the relationship between loneliness, life satisfaction and depression. A study with Malaysian medical students. Soc Psych Psych Epid 2007; 42: 161-6.

Heinrich LM & Gullone E. The clinical significance of loneliness: A literature review. Clin Psychol Rev 2006; 26: 695–718.

Hawkley LC & Cacioppo JT. Loneliness and pathways to disease. Brain Behav Immun 2003; Suppl 1: S98-105.

Hawkley LC, Browne MW, Cacioppo JT. How can I connect with thee? Let me count the ways. Psychol Sci 2004; 16: 798–804.

Mahon NE, Yarcheski A, Yarcheski TJ, Cannella BL, Hanks MM. A meta-analytic study of predictors for loneliness during adolescence. Nurs Res 2006; 55: 308-15.

Cacioppo JT, Hawkley LC, Crawford LE, Ernst JM, Burleson MH, Kowalewski RB et.al. Loneliness and health: potential mechanisms. Psychosom Med 2002; 64: 407-17.

Karaoglu N, Avsaroglu S, Deniz ME. Are you lonely? A study about loneliness in university students in Selcuk University. Marmara Medical Journal 2009; 22: 19-26.

Haeffel GJ, Abramson LY, Brazy PC, Shah JY, Teachman BA, Nosek BA. Explicit and implicit cognition: a preliminary test of a dual-process theory of cognitive vulnerability to depression. Behav Res Ther 2007; 45: 1155-67.

Joiner TE, Steer RA, Abramson LY, Alloy LB, Metalsky GI, Schmidt NB. Hopelessness depression as a distinct dimension of depressive symptoms among clinical and non-clinical samples. Behav Res Ther 2001; 39: 523-36.

Kuyken W. Cognitive therapy outcome: the effects of hopelessness in a naturalistic outcome study. Behav Res Ther 2004; 42: 631-46.

Endler NS & Kocovski NL. State and trait anxiety revisited. J Anxiety Disord 2001; 15: 231-45.

Deniz ME, Kesici S, Sümer AS. The validity and reliability of the Turkish version of the Self-Compassion Scale. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2008; 36: 1151-60.

Neff KD. Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self Identity 2003; 2: 85-101.

Allen AB &, Leary MR. Self-Compassion, stress, and coping. Soc Personal Psychol Compass 2010; 4: 107–18.

Russell D, Peplau LA, Cutrona CE. The revised UCLA Loneliness Scale: Concurrent and discriminant validity evidence. J Pers Soc Psychol 1980; 39: 472–80.

Demir A. UCLA Yalnızlık ölçeğinin geçerlik ve güvenirliliği. Psikoloji Dergisi 1989; 7: 14–8.

Spielberger CD, Gorsuch RL & Lusahene RE. Manual for State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. California: Consulting Psychologists Press; 1970.

Öner N & LeCompte A. Durumluk-Sürekli Kaygı Envanteri El Kitabı. İstanbul: Boğaziçi Üniversitesi Yayınları; 1982

Beck AT, Weissman A, Lester D, Trexler L. The measurement of pessimism: the Hopelessness Scale. J Consult Clin Psychol 1974; 42: 861–5.

Seber G, Dilbaz N, Kaptanoğlu C, Tekin D. Umutsuzluk Ölçeği: Geçerlilik ve güvenirliği. Kriz Dergisi 1993; 1: 139-42.

Neff, K. D. The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self Identity 2003; 2: 223-50.

Coulehan J. Viewpoint: Today’s professionalism: engaging the mind but not the heart. Acad Med 2005; 80: 892-8.

Neff KD. The role of self-compassion in development: A healthier way to relate to oneself. Editor’s Corner. Hum Dev 2009; 52: 211–4.

Neff KD, Rude SS, Kirkpatrick KL. An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits. J Res Pers 2007; 41: 908-16.

Leget C & Olthuis G. Compassion as a basis for ethics in medical education. J Med Ethics 2007; 33: 617-20.

Tartas M, Walkiewicz M, Majkowicz M, Budzinski W. Psychological factors determining success in a medical career: A 10-year longitudinal study. Med Teach 2011; 33: e163-e172.

Karaoglu N & Seker M. Anxiety and depression in medical students related to desire for and expectations from a medical career. West Indian Med J 2010; 59: 196-202.