Sleep Quality, Perceived Stress, and Doctor of Physical Therapy Students


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between sleep quality and perceived stress among Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students. Poor sleep quality in other health professional and undergraduate students has been linked to impaired academic performance as well as poorer mental and physical health. Since research on this topic is limited, new data should further the understanding of the potential impact of sleep quality on DPT students and provide valuable information to Doctor of Physical Therapy programs.


Researchers conducted a non-experimental study using a single-site, cross-sectional design. A convenience sample of DPT students completed an online survey that measured perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale; PSS-10) and sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; PSQI).


One-hundred sixty-three DPT students (42 entering year one, 37 ending year one, 43 ending year two, 41 ending year three) participated. The mean PSS-10 score for each cohort was as follows: entering year one 13.45 (SD 4.98), ending year one 11.22 (SD 4.81), ending year two 16.02 (SD 6.62), soon-to-graduate 16.69 (SD 4.27), with an overall mean PSS-10 score of 14.47 (SD 5.65). Using the PSQI, researchers identified 38.04% of students across all of the cohorts had poor sleep quality. The logistic regression model was statistically significant, _2(1) = 13.379, p < .001. The model explained 10.7% (Nagelkerke R2) of the variance in sleep quality and correctly classified 65.0% of cases. Participants with increased perceived stress had 1.12 times higher odds to be categorized as having poor sleep quality than those with lower perceived stress levels. Therefore, increasing perceived stress was associated with an increased likelihood of exhibiting decreased sleep quality. There was a low, direct association between perceived stress and sleep quality.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:

A better understanding of perceived stress and sleep quality while in physical therapy school may enhance studentsÕ well-being and resiliency. Addressing sleep and stress issues while in physical therapy school may increase the window of opportunity for teaching DPT students effective stress management strategies. Ultimately, this may help decrease the risk for burnout as novice clinicians.

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  • Control #: 26527
  • Type: Poster Presentation - Research Type
  • Event/Year: ELC2020
  • Authors: Michael Richardson
  • Keywords:

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