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Abstract

Purposes: This study aimed 1) to evaluate perceived stress of a cohort of bachelor physical therapy (PT) students from Ariel University in Israel across three clinical practice periods; 2) to evaluate the relationship between perceived stress and academic achievements; 3) to evaluate the relationship between students' perceived stress and clinical practice periods' order and content; and 4) to identify clinical and socio-demographic variables related to perceived stress. Methods: A longitudinal study was conducted among a cohort of undergraduate PT students during their first, second, and third clinical practice assignments. Data were collected using an online questionnaire. The Perceived Stress Scale 10 (PSS) and the Scale for Assessing Academic Stress (SAAS) were used to evaluate perceived stress. A ten-degree Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) was used to evaluate perceived difficulty. Students' grade point averages from the first three years of study were considered academic achievements. An ANOVA was used to evaluate the relationship between perceived stress and academic achievements, and between clinical practice order and area and the socio-demographic characteristics. Results: A total of 39 undergraduate physical therapy students participated in the study. The degrees of PSS and SAAS were higher than those reported previously in undergraduate PT students. Perceived stress was not related to academic achievement, clinical practice order or area, or to socio-demographic characteristics. Conclusions: Participation in clinical practice in general might be a stressful situation, but no specific clinical or socio-demographic factors that might be a source of higher levels of perceived stress were identified. As undergraduate students are away from the campus during clinical practice periods, it is suggested that clinical instructors, who are in daily contact with the students, should receive guidance regarding the ways to identify individuals who present signs of increased stress and the types of strategies that can help students cope with stress in real time.

Author Bio(s)

Tamar Jacob, PT, MPH, PhD, is the head of the Masters' program at the Physical Therapy Department in Ariel University, Israel. She is a senior lecturer and a registered physical therapist. She has been engaged in education of physical therapy students for over thirty years.

Ofira Einstein, BPT, PhD, is the head of the Physical Therapy Department in Ariel University, Israel. She is a senior lecturer and a registered physical therapist. Her PhD degree is in Neurobiology. Her current scientific work focuses on physical exercise and brain inflammatory diseases.

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