Exploring"Experiences of First Semester Nursing Students: Journaling as a Means to Reduce Stress and Anxiety"

Arielle Bass, Stacey RayAnne Bradford

Abstract


Anxiety is an emotional response that many, if not all, nursing students struggle with on a daily basis.  Journaling has been found to help with decreasing anxiety levels in a generalized population, although the benefits within a subset population of nursing students has not been conclusive in studies to date.  The research question for the study was:  Do journaling techniques reduce stress and anxiety levels in Baccalaureate Nursing (BSN) students during a single semester?  The purpose of the study was to determine if journaling decreased anxiety among beginning nursing students.  The reasons behind this study were to add to nursing knowledge on journaling to relieve anxiety among nursing students, to hopefully help them perform better in the nursing program, and to avoid burnout in the future as Registered Nurses (RNs).  The design involved a convenience sample of incoming summer BSN students randomly assigned to an experimental or control group.  A pretest-posttest design with classroom instructor reminders on a week-to-week basis regarding weekly journal writing was used over the course of 12 weeks.  All students received a notebook, and the experimental group was given instructions to journal, while the control group was given instructions to take notes.  Beck’s Anxiety Inventory (BAT) and Draw-a-Person-in-the-Rain (DAPR) were administered at the beginning and end of the study in the classroom setting.  Also, prior to the study, IRB approval was obtained, and students completed informed consent with the knowledge of details pertaining to the study and the risks involved.  All data were collected anonymously with no student identifiers, and results were reported as aggregate data.  The pretest-posttest data, in addition to the demographics, were analyzed using paired t-test analysis, a regression line, and Chi-square tests through SPSS software.  An analysis of the results showed no statistically significant data, with the exception of a slight correlation between expected grade in class and post-BAT score.  Visual analysis of the data showed a small negative correlation between the control group’s anxiety levels and BAT scores.  DAPR was found not to show any correlation with BAT scores.  Further research is necessary to note the possible correlation between note taking and anxiety reduction among the nursing student population, in addition to the potential benefits of more creative journaling interventions to reduce anxiety.


Keywords


Nursing; Anxiety; Stress

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