Introduction: This study examines the perceived stress and self-care behaviors of graduate students as impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who participated had varying degree concentrations, with the majority of participants having a Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Couples and Family Therapy, Dance Movement Therapy, or Clinical Psychology focus. This study is particularly relevant to health care workers, especially those whose focus is mental health. Markedly elevated prevalence of reported adverse mental and behavioral health conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the broad impact of the pandemic and the need to prevent and treat these conditions. This study sought to examine the presence and significance of a relationship between perceived stress, self-care strategies, and participant characteristics and the impact of COVID-19.
Methods: Utilizing a quantitative approach, data were collected via survey method using related questionnaires and assessments; approximately 700 surveys were disseminated to the student-body, with a response rate of 24% yielding 170 initial participants. Pearson bivariate and multiple regression were used to determine the statistical significance of any potential relationship as posed by the research questions.
Results: A statistically significant relationship was found between perceived stress and the impact of COVID-19 for the students. Also, using multiple regression, age (p = .005) and race/ethnic identity (p = .006) contributed to the reported levels of perceived stress. Racial identity was a significant predictor of the reported scores on the impact of COVID-19 (p = .01). There was also a significant relationship (p <.001) between adequate sleep and eating nutritiously (p = .016) and reported perceived stress and the impact of COVID-19. Lastly, engaging in social activism was related to an increased impact of COVID-19 (p=.037), specifically for the subscale of hyperarousal (p=.016).
Conclusion: A summary of our findings indicates a significant relationship between participant’s perceived stress and the impact of COVID-19; specifically, as the level of perceived stress increased for our participants, so did the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seemingly, those who experience greater daily stress in their lives reported a more significant impact of COVID-19 on their daily lives. These results point to the need for wellness strategies specific to stress reduction strategies to also help in alleviating the distress associated with COVID-19. As universities transition to online learning, online accessible interventions aimed at helping students address stress, depression, and wellbeing, may prove beneficial.
Stalnaker-Shofner, Devona M.; Lounsbury, Cathy; Collagan, Sadie; Keck, Sean; and Roberts, Ryan
"Perceived Stress and Self-Care in Graduate Students Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic,"
Journal of Wellness: Vol. 3
, Article 1.
Available at: https://ir.library.louisville.edu/jwellness/vol3/iss2/1