Anxiety about anxiety in medical undergraduates

Ashley Anne Dennis, Fergus Neville, Anita Laidlaw, Robert Warren, Gozde Ozakinci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Effective communication with patients is a vital ability for a doctor, and therefore training in communication skills forms an important component of the undergraduate medical curriculum. However, some medical undergraduates experience anxiety in communicating with patients and this makes it difficult for them to communicate with patients effectively. We developed workshops to equip students with skills to reduce communication-related anxiety, but turnout was low and only female students participated.

Purposes: This study investigated the barriers that existed to workshop participation in order to inform the development of future workshops.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with medical students who were completing their pre-clinical training (n = 16) were carried out. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed.

Results: Participants recognised symptoms of anxiety, and some reported experiencing it when speaking with patients. Participants acknowledged that the workshops would be useful to some students. Labelling the workshops as dealing with ‘anxiety’ contributed to non-participation, as students perceived their attendance as potentially showing weakness to fellow students and to medical school staff. Our findings indicated that the stigma attached to seeking guidance for communication-related anxiety is exacerbated for male students and by the competitive medical school environment.

Conclusions: Attitudes towards ‘anxiety’ and experiencing anxiety can act as a barrier towards seeking support for communication-related anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-333
Number of pages4
JournalThe Clinical Teacher
Issue number5
Early online date21 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Anxiety about anxiety in medical undergraduates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this