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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Experienced stressors and coping strategies among Iranian nursing students

Naiemeh Seyedfatemi1*, Maryam Tafreshi1 and Hamid Hagani2

Author affiliations

1 Mental Health Department, Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery affiliated to Iran Medical Sciences University, Yasemi, St. Valiasr Aven. Tehran, Iran

2 Biostatistics Department, Faculty of Management and Information Science Center affiliated to Iran Medical Sciences University, Valiasr Ave. Rajaie Heart Center, Tehran, Iran

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Citation and License

BMC Nursing 2007, 6:11  doi:10.1186/1472-6955-6-11

Published: 13 November 2007

Abstract

Background

College students are prone to stress due to the transitional nature of college life. High levels of stress are believed to affect students' health and academic functions. If the stress is not dealt with effectively, feelings of loneliness, nervousness, sleeplessness and worrying may result. Effective coping strategies facilitate the return to a balanced state, reducing the negative effects of stress.

Methods

This descriptive cross-sectional study was performed to determine sources of stress and coping strategies in nursing students studying at the Iran Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery. All undergraduate nursing students enrolled in years 1-4 during academic year 2004-2005 were included in this study, with a total of 366 questionnaires fully completed by the students. The Student Stress Survey and the Adolescent Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences Inventory (ACOPE) were used for data collection.

Results

Most students reported "finding new friends" (76.2%), "working with people they did not know" (63.4%) as interpersonal sources of stress, "new responsibilities" (72.1%), "started college" (65.8%) as intrapersonal sources of stress more than others. The most frequent academic source of stress was "increased class workload" (66.9%) and the most frequent environmental sources of stress were being "placed in unfamiliar situations" (64.2%) and "waiting in long lines" (60.4%). Interpersonal and environmental sources of stress were reported more frequently than intrapersonal and academic sources. Mean interpersonal (P=0.04) and environmental (P=0.04) sources of stress were significantly greater in first year than in fourth year students. Among coping strategies in 12 areas, the family problem solving strategies, "trying to reason with parents and compromise" (73%) and "going along with family rules" (68%) were used "often or always" by most students. To cope with engaging in demanding activity, students often or always used "trying to figure out how to deal with problems" (66.4%) and "trying to improve themselves" (64.5%). The self-reliance strategy, "trying to make their own decisions" (62%); the social support strategies, "apologizing to people" (59.6%), "trying to help other people solve their problems" (56.3%), and "trying to keep up friendships or make new friends" (54.4%); the spiritual strategy, "praying" (65.8%); the seeking diversions strategy, "listening to music" (57.7%), the relaxing strategy "day dreaming" (52.5%), and the effort to "be close with someone cares about you" (50.5%) were each used "often or always" by a majority of students. Most students reported that the avoiding strategies "smoking" (93.7%) and "drinking beer or wine" (92.9%), the ventilating strategies "saying mean things to people" and "swearing" (85.8%), the professional support strategies "getting professional counseling" (74.6%) and "talking to a teacher or counselor" (67.2%) and the humorous strategy "joking and keeping a sense of humor" (51.9%) were used "seldom or never".

Conclusion

First year nursing students are exposed to a variety of stressors. Establishing a student support system during the first year and improving it throughout nursing school is necessary to equip nursing students with effective coping skills. Efforts should include counseling helpers and their teachers, strategies that can be called upon in these students' future nursing careers.