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Perceived Stress and Coping Strategies in Entry-Level Doctor of Physical Therapy Students Enrolled in a Hybrid-Learning Curriculum during the Pandemic

DOI: 10.4236/ojmp.2022.112005, PP. 57-71

Keywords: Perceived Stress, Coping, Hybrid-Learning, Physical Therapy, Pandemic

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Physical therapy students can experience elevated levels of stress due to the pressure to be successful, changes in the environment, personal concerns, the lack of spare time, increased work, or financial burdens. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceived stress and coping strategies of Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students enrolled in a hybrid-learning curriculum during the COVID-19 pademic. A total of 73 students enrolled in the DPT hybrid-learning curriculum responded to a survey which consisted of socio-demographics, the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the 28-item Brief COPE. A general question regarding stress relating to COVID-19 was presented as a sliding percentage. Data analysis included a Spearman correlation, a Kruskal-Wallis test, and a linear regression to evaluate coping mechanisms against PSS scores. The mean (± SD) score on the PSS was 22.65 (± 10.21) and the Brief COPE was 59.18 (± 10.61). A non-significant negative correlation was found between the PSS and Brief COPE (r = -0.024). A third of the variation in the perceived stress score could be accounted for by students utilizing coping mechanisms regardless of other factors (R2 = 0.35). No significant differences were found when comparing PSS and Brief Cope to age, hours worked per week and term. Perceived stress was higher in females compared to males, but the results were not significant. Stress related to COVID-19 mean percentage reported by DPT students was 49.03%. During a global pandemic, DPT students enrolled in a hybrid-learning curriculum reported elevated levels of stress but reported higher adaptive versus maladaptive coping strategies. It can be beneficial that universities evaluate the stress and coping methods of students to potentially avoid the negative impacts of stress.


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