Role of Resilience and Stress in Academic Success for PT, OT, and SLP Graduate Students
Purpose/Hypothesis: To compare resilience and personal stress factors as well as examine the relationship between resiliency, stress, and cumulative GPA among PT, OT, and SLP students. Number of Subjects: Students (N=185) from three graduate health programs (physical therapy n=77, occupational therapy n=60, and speech therapy n=48) were invited to participate via Survey Monkey. Materials and Methods: Subjects voluntarily completed assessments in resiliency measured by the Conner-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) and Psychological Capital Questionnaire (PsyCap), as well as personal stress factors measured by the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory (HRSI) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Participant demographics and GPA were blinded to researchers. Descriptive statistics examined the means of all independent variables. Bivariate correlations were used to explore the relationships between resilience, stress, and GPA. ANOVA examined differences in resiliency and GPA between the different graduate programs. Results: One hundred and twenty-six students (68%) participated in the survey (PT n=60, OT n=33, SLP n=33). No significant differences in either resilience or stress and GPA were found between the health professions students. There was a moderately significant correlation between PSS (stress) and CD-RISC (resilience) (r=-.53, p<.001). These subjects had higher PSS means (PT=15.4 ±5.7, OT=18.9 ±4.9, and SLP=15.9 ±5.4) and lower CD-RISC means (PT=64.1 ±8.0, OT=64.1 ±6.5, and SLP=64.5 ±7.3) than the general population means (PSS=12.9; CD-RISC=80.7). Total PsyCap (optimism, hope, confidence, and resiliency) averages (111.9 ±15.5 to 114.6 ±12.3) and four of the five CD-RISC constructs (tenacity 24.6 ±3.4 to 25.2 ±3.0, tolerance of stress 18.4 ±3.5 to 19.3 ±3.0, acceptance of change 16.1 ±2.3 to 16.8 ±1.7, and sense of control 9.6 ±2.0 to 10.4 ±1.7) increased slightly from first year to second year students. Conclusions: Stress and resilience showed a nonsignificant relationship with academic performance in health professions graduate students. Total resilience CD-RISC and PsyCap scores among the students in all three health professional programs were very similar. Interestingly, PSS scores were significantly inversely correlated with CD-RISC scores, suggesting that higher perceived stress could be characteristic of lower levels of resilience. The original validation study for the CD-RISC scale found subjects with anxiety had an average score of 62.4/100. Therefore, health professions students could be at higher risk for anxiety. Clinical Relevance: Neither stress nor resilience had a significant relationship with academic performance in graduate therapy programs. The relationship between perceived stress and resilience demonstrates the potential to explore the use of the CD-RISC as a predictor of other measures related to life satisfaction and psychological health with enrolled or potential graduate therapy students.