Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Perceived Stress and Quality of Life among Doctor of Pharmacy Students

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Perceived Stress and Quality of Life among Doctor of Pharmacy Students

Article excerpt


Stress is a term often used by individuals in a variety of social, academic, and employment settings. Both negative and positive aspects of a person's life can contribute to stress, and stress does not necessarily result in negative outcomes. University students, however, often experience an undue amount of stress, which can have negative academic, emotional, or health outcomes. (1) This can occur at different time periods during a semester or years in college, during the transition from undergraduate to professional or graduate programs, or upon graduation.' Stress in university students has many sources, including academics, personal situations, environment, time, and economic circumstances. (2,3)

Several instruments have been used to study stress in college students. (4-7) One instrument, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), which measures perceived stress and reactions to stressful situations, has been correlated with several psychological and physiological scales. (7-18) Several different instruments other than the PSS have been used to examine stress in students enrolled in health sciences programs. (1-3,19-24) The majority of stress research has been conducted in medical, nursing, or dental students. (2,20-23) In contrast, few studies have examined stress in PharmD students or have compared sources and levels of stress in pharmacy students with those in other health professions students. (19,24,25) In one study that did, pharmacy students were found to suffer from more stress and distress than medical and dental students. (24)

Accreditation agencies are beginning to require academic institutions to explore student stress. The current Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) Accreditation standards and guidelines for the professional program in pharmacy leading to the PharmD degree, Standard No. 15, contains a recommendation to measure perceived stress in students. (26) Undue stress in PharmD students may have negative health-related outcomes. (10,14-16,19) Only 1 previous study examined the relationship between PharmD student stress levels and HRQOL. (19) Sources and consequences of stress and the HRQOL of PharmD students warrant further investigation.

The purpose of this pilot study was to examine self-reported perceived stress and HRQOL, and to investigate the relationship between stress and HRQOL within a sample of PharmD students. The study objectives were to: (1) examine perceived stress of the sample and sociodemographic subsets of the sample; (2) examine HRQOL of the sample and sociodemographic subsets of the sample; (3) investigate the relationship between perceived stress and HRQOL of the sample; (4) explore sources of stress, stress coping strategies, and suggestions to ameliorate stress among the sample; and (5) compare stress and HRQOL of the sample of PharmD students to other college students.


All third-year PharmD students at one university were invited to participate in a study to detect stress using an IRB-approved subject information sheet. Responses were anonymous, but survey instruments and questionnaires were numbered and collated for data analysis.

The PSS, which measures self-reported was used because of the instrument's established validity and reliability. 7-18 The PSS contains 14 questions, with answers ranked using a 5-point Liked scale, and assesses stressful experiences and responses to stress over the previous 4 weeks. Questions that relate negative events or responses are scored in reverse manner. Scores range from 0 to 56, with higher scores indicating higher levels of perceived stress.

The SF-12, version 2, HRQOL survey, Quality Metric Incorporated, Lincoln, Rhode Island, which also measures respondents' experiences over the previous 4 weeks, was used to measure quality of life. (7,27-30) The SF-12 and the SF-36 are the HRQOL instruments most often used in current practice. (1,3,27, 29, 31,32) The 12 questions on the SF-12 are divided into a mental health component summary (MCS), which includes questions about feelings and possible limitations from emotional problems, and a physical health component summary (PCS), which includes questions about physical health and possible limitations from physical health problems. …

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