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Contributions of psychological needs, self-compassion, leisure-time exercise, and achievement goals to academic engagement and exhaustion in Canadian medical students
To investigate the contributions of psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) and coping strategies (self-compassion, leisure-time exercise, and achievement goals) to engagement and exhaustion in Canadian medical students.
This was an observational study. Two hundred undergraduate medical students participated in the study: 60.4% were female, 95.4% were 20-29 years old, and 23.0% were in year 1, 30.0% in year 2, 21.0% in year 3, and 26.0% in year 4. Students completed an online survey with measures of engagement and exhaustion from the Oldenburg Burnout Inventory-student version; autonomy, competence, and relatedness from the Basic Psychological Needs Scale; self-compassion from the Self-Compassion Scale-short form; leisure-time exercise from the Godin Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire; and mastery approach, mastery avoidance, performance approach, and performance avoidance goals from the Achievement Goals Instrument. Descriptive and inferential analyses were performed.
The need for competence was the strongest predictor of student engagement (β= 0.35, P= 0.000) and exhaustion (β= −0.33, P= 0.000). Students who endorsed mastery approach goals (β= 0.21, P= 0.005) and who were more self-compassionate (β= 0.13, P= 0.050) reported greater engagement with their medical studies. Students who were less self-compassionate (β= −0.32, P= 0.000), who exercised less (β= −0.12, P= 0.044), and who endorsed mastery avoidance goals (β= 0.22, P= 0.003) reported greater exhaustion from their studies. Students’ gender (β= 0.18, P= 0.005) and year in medical school (β= −0.18, P= 0.004) were related to engagement, but not to exhaustion.
Supporting students’ need for competence and raising students’ awareness of self-compassion, leisure-time exercise, and mastery approach goals may help protect students from burnout-related exhaustion and enhance their engagement with their medical school studies.
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