The effect of COVID-19 on medical students’ education and wellbeing: a cross-sectional survey


  • Hassan ElHawary McGill University
  • Ali Salimi McGill University
  • Natasha Barone McGill University
  • Peter Alam McGill University
  • Stephanie Thibaudeau McGill University



Background: Canadian medical school curriculums have undergone major restructuring during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study’s goal was to assess the perceived impact of COVID-19 on medical students’ education and wellbeing. 

Methods: An online survey was distributed to Canadian medical students.  Descriptive analyses and ANOVAs were used to assess changes in mental health, health habits and quality of education during the pandemic.

Results: 248 medical students from 13 schools across Canada participated in this study. 74% reported a reduction in the quality of their education since COVID-19. 58% of students found online to be inferior to in-person teaching. 65% of students had more time for wellness and leisure activities, about half of the cohort felt more depressed (48%) and lonelier (52%). Student’s overall health habits worsened after the start of the pandemic (F=37.4, p < 0.001). Alcohol drinking, time spent seated, and screen time also increased since the pandemic (p < 0.001). During the pandemic, students with a prior history of depression or anxiety expressed increased depressive symptoms (66% vs. 42%, p =0.003), increased anxiety (69% vs. 41%, p < 0001), worse sleep quality (34% vs. 18%, p = 0.031), and poorer quality of life (55% vs. 65%, p = 0.024) versus those with no prior history.

Conclusion: Canadian medical student’s education and wellbeing has been negatively impacted during the pandemic.


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How to Cite

ElHawary H, Salimi A, Barone N, Alam P, Thibaudeau S. The effect of COVID-19 on medical students’ education and wellbeing: a cross-sectional survey. Can. Med. Ed. J [Internet]. 2021 Jun. 30 [cited 2024 Jun. 19];12(3):92-9. Available from:



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