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

Susy Kovatz, Ilan Kutz, Gil Rubin, Rachel Dekel, Louis Shenkman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-393
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • *Terrorism
  • Comparative study
  • Culture
  • Education, medical, undergraduate
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Questionnaires
  • Stress, psychological/ *aetiology
  • Students, medical/*psychology
  • United States


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