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Al-Suwailem and Al-Omari: Anxiety effects on student academic performance in the College of Medicine, Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University

Introduction: Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes which may include increased blood pressure and apnoea. Several factors contribute to anxiety and one of the leading factors is stress. Medical students are almost always under stress because they have concern about their future as well as grade point averages (GPAs).

Objective: To analyse the effects of anxiety on GPAs of medical students.

Materials and methods: The study was a cross-sectional descriptive survey. Convenience sampling was carried out at the College of Medicine in Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Sixty questionnaires were collected.

Results: In our study, the GPA of the students was 4–5 (33.3%), 3–4 (50%), 2–3 (16.7%). The students who felt tense and uneasy during exams were divided between the categories agree (46.7%) and disagree (53.3%). The students who felt anxious in more than one situation, for example when entering discussion about the future, were divided into always (13.3%), mostly (13.3%), sometimes (35%), rarely (28.3%) and never (10.0%). Students thinking about failure because of insufficient time to adequately cover the educational material were divided into always (3.3%), mostly (11.7%), sometimes (30.0%), rarely (40.0%) and never (15.0%). Those students who felt tense and anxious during study activities had GPAs between 2–3. This study shows that the College of Medicine at Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University is student centred and creates a better environment for the student to learn.

Conclusions: This study has shown how anxiety affects the GPA of medical students. Anxiety can have an enormous impact on students’ health, lives and seriously harm their quality of life. Most students who felt tense and anxious during their studies were those with lower GPAs. Having a student-centred approach to learning will help reduce stress in medical students.

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Dr Khalid Alqumaizi, Dr Abdullah Alrabeah, Dr Sami Aldaham and Dr Fred Saleh for their support and help, and for students who participated in the study.

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