Effects of selected stress modifers on test anxiety in Baccalaureate Nursing students




Davis-La Grow, Patricia

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The purposes of the study were to investigate modifying effects of sensation-seeking, sense of humor, and perceived social support on state anxiety (as depicted in a stress model); and to determine the modifying effect of a planned humor intervention on state anxiety.

Procedure. The sample consisted of 101 junior and senior baccalaureate nursing students. All students were given the Test Anxiety Inventory prior to an examination. Subjects were then randomly assigned to one of three groups with equal numbers of high, moderate, and low anxiety subjects assigned to each.

One hour prior to the next examination, the subjects completed a Symptomatology Questionnaire (containing symptoms of anxiety and pulse rate) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-A). Group 1 viewed a 20 minute humorous video, group 2 viewed a 20 minute nature video, and group 3 viewed no video, but was instructed to sit quietly for 20 minutes. Then all subjects completed the Symptomatology Questionnaire and STAI-A again.

A series of questionnaires was then completed (to analyze the model of stress): Situational Humor Response Questionnaire, Coping Humor Scale, Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire, and Sensation-Seeking Scale.

Data analysis. The methods of analyses were path analysis (for the Stress Model) and ANCOVAs and ANOVA (with Tukey post hoc comparisons) for the experimental portion.

Findings. The path analysis revealed perceived social support directly, modified the appraisal of stress, while sensation-seeking and sense of humor did not. However, all three of these variables had a significant positive path coefficient to the coping strategy (CHS). This indicates that sensation-seeking, sense of humor, and perceived social support all indirectly affect stress by providing the individual with the opportunity to cope more effectively.

For the experimental portion, the ANCOVAs for the STAI-A and pulse rates were not significant. The ANOVA for symptoms of anxiety revealed a significant difference (F = 5.62, df = 2,98, p <.005) between the control and treatment groups.

Conclusions. The basic relevance of the Stress Model was established. Social support directly modified stress appraisal and enhanced coping, along with sensation- seeking and sense of humor. Humor, as a planned intervention, significantly decreased symptoms of anxiety (the emotionality component of test anxiety).



Health and environmental sciences, Psychology, Text anxiety, Sensation-seeking, Sense of humor