Date of Completion of Thesis/SIP

Fall 11-4-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



First Advisor

Diane Forsyth

Second Advisor

Ann Loth


This secondary analysis explored the prevalence of perceived stress in undergraduate nursing students and the effects of self-efficacy and helplessness on the perceived stress. There were three purposes of this study.  The primary purpose was to assess levels of perceived stress among undergraduate nursing students, based on the variables of age, gender, and academic term.  The second purpose was to identify how students’ reported feelings of self-efficacy and helplessness correlated to their overall perceived stress scores. The final purpose was to identify how students applied skills learned in a stress management program. Lazarus’ theory of stress guided this study. Following IRB approval, data were obtained from the primary investigators. The primary study included a sample of undergraduate nursing students at a Midwestern university in various terms of their nursing program. This secondary analysis utilized the primary investigation’s pre-survey demographic information and perceived stress scores (N = 256), and post survey qualitative responses regarding the use of stress management techniques (n = 35). Multiple analyses were used to obtain the data including a two-sample t-test, one-way ANOVA, Pearson’s correlation coefficient, and qualitative thematic analysis. Perceived stress was significantly higher for females than males (p = 0.03), and tended to decrease as students progressed further in the nursing program (p < 0.001). Stress was statistically significantly positively associated with helplessness (p < 0.001) and negatively associated with self-efficacy (p < 0.001). Seven themes were found among the qualitative response data with the most prevalent being utilization of mindfulness/relaxation techniques and utilization of physical activity. The secondary analysis had similar findings to what has been identified in prior research. Demographic factors had varying effects on students’ overall perceived stress scores. Perceived stress had a positive correlation with feelings of helplessness (r = 0.92, p < 0.001), and a negative correlation with self-efficacy (r = 0.49, p < 0.001). The results of this secondary analysis can be used to understand the experience of stress for undergraduate nursing students. This knowledge can assist educators to plan interventions for stress management. Future research should include larger sample sizes and control groups, as well as, a more diverse sample.

Included in

Nursing Commons



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