The Impact of Perfectionism on Mental, Social, and Physical Health of Graduate Students in the Health Sciences

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Purpose: Perfectionism is considered a multidimensional construct with adaptive and maladaptive features. It was hypothesized that the diverse perfectionism components would predict well-being outcomes of similar valence. Method: The current study investigated perfectionism and mental, social, and physical health outcomes of graduate students in health science disciplines, across two semesters. We utilized two approaches in our empirical analysis. We first examined the continuous relationships between perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns, and health-related outcomes of graduate students. Additionally, we assessed differences between three perfectionism groups (i.e., adaptive, maladaptive, or non-perfectionist) on these well-being outcomes. Results: Results indicated that generally, adaptive perfectionism was related to better mental health, quality of life, and social functioning; maladaptive perfectionism was related to worse outcomes. The groups, however, did not statistically differ in general physical health. Conclusions: Overall, our results support a conceptualization of perfectionism that is differentially related to graduate student well-being. Thus, supportive networks may be fostered by differentiating between adaptive and maladaptive features of perfectionism. Moreover, we highlight the need for further discussion relative to determining perfectionism in high-achieving populations, in particular, graduate students in the health sciences.




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