Why is everyone so anxious? An exploration of stress and anxiety in genetic counseling graduate students

Chelsy Jungbluth, Ian M. MacFarlane, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Bonnie S. LeRoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stress is an inevitable part of daily life. Studies of graduate student stress exist, but none include genetic counseling students. The present mixed-methods study investigated 225 genetic counseling students' stress and anxiety levels using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI; Spielberger et al. 1983), frequency and intensity of stressors associated with their graduate experience, positive and challenging aspects of their experience, and their stress management advice for prospective students. Principal axis factor analysis yielded five conceptual factors underlying the stressors: Professional Uncertainty, Personal Life Events, Interpersonal Demands, Academic Demands, and Isolating Circumstances. Exploratory model fitting using regression yielded four significant predictors accounting for 19% of the variance in state anxiety: (1) trait anxiety, (2) the Interpersonal Demands factor, (3) the Isolating Circumstances factor, and (4) the interaction between the Professional Uncertainty factor and advanced student status. Content analysis of open-ended responses identified several themes. For instance, most students enjoyed what they were learning, interactions with colleagues, and affirmation of their career choice, while certain academic and professional challenges were particularly stressful (e.g., workload, time constraints, clinical rotations). Additional findings, program implications, and research recommendations are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-286
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Coping
  • Genetic counseling students
  • Stress
  • Stress management
  • Training challenges
  • Training rewards

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