Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Perceived Stressors and Coping in Junior, Senior, and Graduate Occupational Therapy Students
Author Affiliations
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Quinnipiac University
Article Information
Education of OTs and OTAs / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Perceived Stressors and Coping in Junior, Senior, and Graduate Occupational Therapy Students
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505178. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO7117
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505178. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO7117
Abstract

Date Presented 4/9/2016

This study aimed to identify perceived stressors and coping strategies among 167 occupational therapy (OT) students. Students completed two questionnaires, and data were analyzed with SPSS and Excel software. Results may have implications to enhance OT students’ academic performance.

Primary Author and Speaker: Jessica Soja

Additional Authors and Speakers: Martha Sanders, Katherine Haughey

PURPOSE: To identify the perceived stressors and coping strategies related to the college experience in junior, senior, and graduate level MOT students.
BACKGROUND: There is a high demand placed on entry-level master's occupational therapy (OT) students during their academic careers. Students report feeling overwhelmed with meeting the demands of school, work, and social lives. In fact, 64% of college students report levels of stress higher than average for the population, which affects learning because of difficulties with memory, judgment, self-esteem, and depression. There is limited research on specific stressors and coping strategies among OT students. In general, Tyrrell and Smith indicated that OT students experience high levels of stress; however, the sources and ways of dealing with stress are not clear. These variables must be understood in order to make recommendations to maximize academic performance for students.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional; self-report surveys
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 167 OT students (52 juniors, 72 seniors, and 43 graduates) participated. Inclusion criteria were registration in a college class and fluency in English.
METHOD: Participants were recruited during their annual class meetings. Data were collected via pen-and-paper surveys, including demographic information and two standardized surveys: the Stress Management Questionnaire and the Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire.
ANALYSIS: Demographic and descriptive statistics were analyzed using SPSS, Version 21, and Microsoft Excel Programs. Analysis of variance was used to compare means for variables among college levels.
RESULTS: The mean number of stressors among all participants was 26.56. The highest perceived stressors were all academic related: assignments due the same day, lots of deadlines, projects and papers, hard upcoming week, and many tests. There was no significant difference in number and type of stressors among grade levels and demographic groups with the exception of housing (p = .011). Those living on campus had significantly more stress than those living off campus. The mean number of coping mechanisms used was 24.25. The highest perceived coping strategies were relaxing, taking hot showers, talking to a friend, listening to music, and sleeping. There was no significant difference in the number and type of stressors among grade levels and demographic groups.
DISCUSSION: Most common stressors for all students were academic related. Even though the majority of students worked and had social involvement, these were not perceived as major stressors. No significant difference suggests the amount of stressors and coping mechanisms is similar among grade levels and demographic groups.
IMPACT STATEMENT: OT students perceive many sources of stress that are academic related. To promote academic performance and success in OT students, educators can design educational assessment strategies with students to minimize these common stressors. Students can explore positive coping mechanisms to serve them for school and life-based challenges.