Wiegand S, Bianchi W, Quinn TA, Best M, Fotopoulos T. Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment for Self-Reported Fatigue, Stress, and Depression in First-Year Osteopathic Medical Students. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2015;115(2):84–93. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2015.019.
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Context: During medical education, many students experience psychological distress, including symptoms such as fatigue, stress, and depression.
Objective: To evaluate the effect of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) on self-perceived fatigue, stress, and depression in first-year osteopathic medical students.
Methods: This randomized controlled pilot study with repeated measures was conducted at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton in Florida during the fall 2012 semester. First-year osteopathic medical students voluntarily enrolled in the study and were randomly assigned to directed OMT (D-OMT), nondirected OMT (ND-OMT), or control groups. The D-OMT and ND-OMT groups received treatment by osteopathic physicians weekly for 4 weeks. The control group received no treatment. All groups completed the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), the Self-Perceived Stress Scale (SPSS), and the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9) depression scale before treatment (pretest), after 2 treatments (midtest), and after 4 treatments (posttest).
Results: All participants self-reported as white and single, with both sexes equally represented, and had an mean age of 24 years. Analysis of ESS scores revealed a statistically significant decrease in the D-OMT group from pretest and posttest scores and a statistically significant increase in the ND-OMT group from pretest to midtest but not from pretest to posttest scores. No statistically significant differences were noted in the control group scores on this measure. No statistically significant differences were seen in the SPSS or PHQ-9 scores from pretest to midtest or pretest to posttest in any of the 3 groups.
Conclusion: The D-OMT regimen used in the current study produced a statistically significant decrease in self-perceived fatigue in first-year osteopathic medical students. Osteopathic manipulative treatment represents a potential modality to reduce self-perceived distress in medical students. Further research is warranted.
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