Stress among student nurses in the Middle Eastern and North African (Mena) region has been examined in the latest study from Weill Cornell Medicine–Qatar’s (WCM-Q) Institute for Population Health (IPH).
Published in the journal 'Systematic Reviews,' the researchers studied all the literature related to stress in nursing students between 2008 and 2021 in 20 Mena countries: Qatar, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the UAE and Yemen.
The aim was to understand the epidemiology of stress among student nurses and offer suggestions on how it could be managed.
Dr Ravinder Mamtani, professor of population health sciences and vice-dean for student affairs-admissions, population health and lifestyle medicine, said understanding the causes of stress and how student nurses currently deal with it could improve retention rates, clinical and academic performance and boost the overall number of people within the nursing profession.
He said, “In countries throughout the world, including the Mena region, there is a shortage of professional nurses, and we know that mental health-related conditions are becoming increasingly prevalent among healthcare professionals worldwide. In nursing students, high stress level has the potential to result in anxiety, depression and burnout, and ultimately this impacts upon their future performance within the profession.”
Seven systematic reviews and 42 primary studies were identified, which showed that the primary causes of stress among student nurses undergoing clinical training were assignments, workload and patient care, limited leisure time, low grades and examinations. Individuals tend to manage the stress using one of three strategies – problem solving, regulation of emotions and venting of emotions, but the researchers said that the link between the stressors and the coping strategies was unclear. However, they said that there is a clear need to identify effective strategies to reduce excessive stress and increase the use of positive coping strategies.
They also made various recommendations, including that nursing institutions should establish a strong support system for students and educators to equip them with effective coping strategies. Reducing the number or intensity of stressors through curriculum revision and improving students’ coping response could also contribute to the reduction of stress levels among students, while nursing faculty should be encouraged to mentor students to develop and strengthen problem-based, rather than emotion-based behaviour to cope with stress and to provide a supportive clinical learning environment.
Dr Sohaila Cheema, assistant dean for the IPH, said: “While stress may not always be preventable, it can be effectively managed. Coping with stressors, especially during the clinical training of the nursing curriculum, is essential to maximising knowledge and productivity and prevent burnout among nursing students.
“It is in all our interests to have a well-staffed and healthy nursing workforce who are mentally resilient and able to successfully cope with the inevitable stress caused by the profession.”
The research paper was titled ‘Perceived stress, stressors and coping strategies among nursing students in the Middle East and North Africa: an overview of systematic reviews'. To read it in full, visit https://systematicreviewsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13643-021-01691-9