Research

#FeesMustFall2016: Perceived and measured effect on clinical medical students

H Brits, G Joubert, L Lomberg, P Djan, G Makoro, M Mokoena, P Malate, D Tengu

Abstract


Background. Medical students are under immense academic stress. Campus unrest can contribute to stress and influence academic performance, social behaviour, emotional stability and financial expenses.

Objectives. To investigate the effects of #FeesMustFall2016 (#FMF2016) on the 2016 3rd-year (semester 6) clinical medical students at the University of the Free State (UFS), Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Methods. In phase 1 of the project, anonymous questionnaires were completed by the clinical students who experienced physical test disruption during #FMF2016. Opinions regarding academic performance, financial expenses, behaviour changes and stress levels were gathered. The students also completed a formal post-traumatic stress screening assessment. In phase 2 of the project, the academic performance of these students was compared with that of students not affected by #FMF2016.

Results. Of the target population of 138 students, 87.0% completed the questionnaires. Three-quarters of the respondents reported a negative effect on academic performance, and most did not believe that the delivering of lectures on Blackboard was a good way of training. Alcohol consumption increased in 31.9% of the students. Criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were met in 12.7% of students. Compared with previous and later cohorts of students there were no clear differences regarding marks, but there was a tendency towards poorer performance and more failures the next year.

Conclusions. Semester 6 medical students at UFS reported that the #FMF2016 protests had a negative effect on academic, social, financial and stress aspects. PTSD was present in 12.7% of students compared with 7.8% in similar populations.

 


Authors' affiliations

H Brits, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

G Joubert, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

L Lomberg, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

P Djan, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

G Makoro, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

M Mokoena, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

P Malate, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

D Tengu, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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Keywords

#FeesMustFall; University of the Free State; Undergraduate medical students; Academic performance; Stress

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2019;109(7):493-497. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i7.13686

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-06-28
Date published: 2019-06-28

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