Patterns of Coping Skill Utilization and Stress Among Dpt Students
Examine coping skill utilization and stress among DPT students, looking for patterns of relationship. Understanding of these patterns offers information about changes in behavior as academic and personal stressors shift and better-informed resource allocation for student support.
Subjects were students within an accelerated entry-level Doctor of Physical Therapy (eDPT) program during the first five semesters of the curriculum. This program instructs students in mindfulness and deep breathing practices, as part of their coursework. Participants completed an online survey at the beginning and end of each semester regarding stress and coping skills. Measures included the Perceived Stress Scale (S. Cohen), Undergraduate Sources of Stress Scale Scale (Blackmore, Tucker and Jones, 2005 version) , and a coping strategies inventory, which utilizes a 5 point Likert scale to rate the frequency that various coping skills are used, as well as demographic data. Patterns of coping skill utilization were examined, including the relationship of stress to the utilization of various coping skills, difference in coping skill utilization during semesters of highest and lowest stress, and relationships with demographic data.
Overall, the coping strategies most frequently utilized were Exercise, Sleep, Eating, watching television or movies, and spending time with family and friends. The coping skills of exercise, sex, and playing with pets were significantly correlated with stress, with exercise being inversely related the other two being positively correlated. In addition, eating, talking or writing about stressors, hobbies, social media, and deep breathing showed a correlation of greater than 0.2, though not reaching a level of statistical significance. Exercise, eating, talking or writing about stressors, social media, playing with pets, and mindfulness were related to gender, with women being more likely to use all except exercise. Household size was inversely related to exercise and directly related to deep breathing utilization. Increased age was associated with decreased use of hobbies as a coping strategy and increased use of playing with pets and deep breathing. The coping skills of exercise, talking or writing about stressors, and watching television or movies were significantly different between the semesters with the highest overall stress sand the lowest overall stress.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme:
Students utilize a variety of coping strategies to manage their stress during school. The patterns of when and by whom various strategies are selected help to improve refinement of resources, training and recommendations provided to students by the institution and faculty advisers.