Monitoring anxiety levels and coping skills among military recruits

Mil Med. 1996 Jan;161(1):18-21.


Military training is a very stressful life event for many recruits. It is purposefully made so in order to prepare military personnel for the long, stress-filled hours of combat. It is a time when recruits are molded into stronger, more disciplined individuals. This study investigated the stress levels and coping skills of recruits during boot camp. The Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Ways of Coping Questionnaire were distributed to 48 recruits during weeks 1, 5, and 8 of training. Results of the Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire indicated that the most stressful period was week 5. This was statistically significant (p < 0.001) compared to weeks 1 and 8. Results of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory indicated that state anxiety was highest during week 1, and was statistically significantly higher (p < 0.05) compared to weeks 5 and 8. The Ways of Coping Questionnaire indicated that problem solving was the most frequently used coping skill, followed by self control and accepting responsibility. The least used coping skill was escape/avoidance. Conclusions to be drawn from this study suggest that weeks 1 and 5 are very stressful for the recruits; however, a majority of them coped adequately with the stress by employing effective coping mechanisms. Implications include enhancing effective coping mechanisms already in place. Recruits with ineffective coping skills require anticipatory guidance and close surveillance, with possible psychiatric intervention. Replication of this study with a greater number of subjects and female recruits is indicated, as are studies that correlate physical symptoms with stress levels.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Avoidance Learning
  • Counseling
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / education*
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • United States