Assessment of the Reliability and Validity of a Stress Questionnaire for Pharmacy Administration Graduate Students

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to test and assess the reliability and validity of a modified stress scale in a sample of pharmacy graduate students. The modified stress scale was used as part of a larger, nationwide, study whose aim was to investigate the association of stress, perceived academic success and health-related quality of life among pharmacy administration graduate students in U.S. colleges of pharmacy. A usable response rate of 46.5% (172/370) was obtained. A principal components analysis with varimax orthogonal rotation resulted in a 29-item, eight component solution (accounting for 66.2% of the explained variance).The eight components were named: 1) fear of failing stress, 2)academic stress, 3) world stress, 4) time stress, 5) stress about feedback, 6) student-faculty interaction stress, 7) economic stress and 8) environmental stress. The Cronbach coefficient alpha value of .90 for the 29-item scale indicated high reliability and internal consistency. The predictive validity results were significant and in the expected direction providing evidence of the validity of the modified stress scale. The modified stress scale is a reliable and valid measure of assessing stress in pharmacy administration graduate students and may be useful in identifying areas of stress that may be present in graduate students from other disciplines.

INTRODUCTION

Students may experience high stress at predictable times each semester due to academic commitments, financial pressures, and lack of time management skills. When stress is perceived negatively or becomes excessive, it may affect health and academic performance (Misra, McKean, West, & Russo, 2000). Doubts about being in the right academic program, concerns about faculty/advisor relations and concerns about time to attain degree are some of the areas which may constitute stressful experiences of being in graduate school.

Many stress scales have been developed and used to study stress among college students (Gadzella, 1991; Kohn & Frazer, 1986; Towbes & Cohen, 1996), health sciences programs students (Heins, Fahey, & Leiden, 1984; Toews et al., 1997; Vitaliano, Russo, Carr, & Heerwagen, 1984), and graduate students (Cahir & Morris, 1991; Hodgson, 1991; Rocha-Singh, 1992). Using previously developed and validated stress scales, studies have been performed to assess stress among bachelor of pharmacy students (Henning, Ey, & Shaw, 1998) and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) students (Dutta, 2001; Gupchup, Borrego, & Konduri, 2004). However, published studies utilizing a validated stress scale to explore the effect of stress among pharmacy graduate students (masters and doctoral level) are lacking.

Given the rigor of masters (M.S.) or doctoral (Ph.D.) level graduate programs in pharmacy, we hypothesize that stress may be an important determinant of whether a student completes their course of study in a timely manner, or even at all. Having a valid and reliable stress scale to identify potential stressors encountered by pharmacy graduate students would be important for graduate program coordinators. Graduate program coordinators could use such a scale to identify potential sources of stress within their graduate students and in turn use the results of such a scale to develop stress awareness and reduction programs. Subsequently, this may help their students deal with their potential stressors and help them succeed.

The purpose of this study was to test and assess the reliability and validity of a modified stress scale in a sample of pharmacy graduate students in U.S. colleges and schools of pharmacy.

Methods

Questionnaire modification

Among the scales available to assess stress in graduate students and health sciences students, the stress questionnaire developed by Heins et. al (1984) was selected for use (after modification) in our study population of pharmacy graduate students (Heins et al. …