Aim: This article is a report of a study conducted to explore the relationship between sources of stress and psychological well-being and to consider how different sources of stress and coping resources might function as moderators and mediators on well-being.
Background: In most research exploring sources of stress and coping in nursing students, stress has been construed as psychological distress. Sources of stress likely to enhance well-being and, by implication, learning have not been considered.
Method: A questionnaire was administered to 171 final year nursing students in 2008. Questions were asked to measure sources of stress when rated as likely to contribute to distress (a hassle) and rated as likely to help one achieve (an uplift). Support, control, self-efficacy and coping style were also measured, along with their potential moderating and mediating effects on well-being, operationalized using the General Health Questionnaire and measures of course and career satisfaction.
Findings: Sources of stress likely to lead to distress were more often predictors of well-being than were sources of stress likely to lead to positive, eustress states, with the exception of clinical placement demands. Self-efficacy, dispositional control and support were important predictors, and avoidance coping was the strongest predictor of adverse well-being. Approach coping was not a predictor of well-being. The mere presence of support appeared beneficial as well as the utility of that support to help a student cope.
Conclusion: Initiatives to promote support and self-efficacy are likely to have immediate benefits for student well-being. In course reviews, nurse educators need to consider how students' experiences might contribute not just to potential distress, but to eustress as well.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.