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Comparing the distress of American and Israeli medical students studying in Israel during a period of terror

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Introduction 

Medical school is a very stressful environment with multiple sources of stress, including academic, social and other issues. International medical students are exposed to additional stressors such as homesickness and culture shock. Methods 

In order to assess the influence of cultural background on the level of perceived distress, we examined Israeli and American students studying at the same university during a period of terror. Results 

We found clear differences between the 2 groups of students, with Americans reporting a higher level of anxiety and a poorer level of social functioning than the Israelis. Although there was no significant difference between the 2 groups in terms of their sense of safety, the American students reported a higher level of fear and more change in their daily activities to a greater extent than did the Israelis. Conclusions 

These findings underscore the effect of culture on students' responses to the same stressful stimuli and to a perceived dangerous environment. Faculty needs to be aware that cultural factors may affect students' adjustment to the medical school environment.
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Keywords: *terrorism; Israel; United States; comparative study; culture; education; humans; medical; medical/*psychology; psychological/*aetiology; questionnaires; stress; students; undergraduate

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: New York State/American Programme, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel 2: Liaison Psychiatry Unit, Meir Hospital, Kfar Saba, Israel 3: School of Social Work, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel

Publication date: 01 April 2006

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