Impact of Perfectionism, Social Media, and Sleep Hygiene on Stress in Students from Health Professions Programs

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41 Comments on “Impact of Perfectionism, Social Media, and Sleep Hygiene on Stress in Students from Health Professions Programs

  1. BAILEY RUDEBUSCH (14 hours ago): This is a great topic to explore, and I can’t say I am surprised by the results you collected. Do you think the timing of when you sent out the survey could have played a factor in the results you obtained? Such as, based on where the programs were regarding assignments and tests playing a factor on their stress at the time of completing the survey. Was this considered when you sent the survey out?

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    • Great job on your presentation! I think this topic is relevant for both undergraduate and graduate students as school can be very stressful at times. It would be interesting to see if the results would change if more universities were included in the study. This could determine if some schools seem to be more stressful than others. Do you guys think that coping/stress relief strategies could have a positive impact on the results?

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      • Thanks for your question Daniel! Comparing results if more universities were involved would be very interesting in terms of some schools possibly showing higher stress levels than others! I think coping/stress relief strategies would definitely have a positive impact on the results. Coping strategies are different for each individual so finding what works for everyone can be challenging, but finding effective ways to control one’s stress during more difficult times can completely change an individual’s outlook; therefore, I would foresee a change in results.

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    • Hi Bailey!
      Thanks for your comment!
      One of the limitations to this study was that the schedules of students who responded could play a role in the overall results. We did discuss this prior to sending out the survey, however, there was no ‘good’ way to control this factor with varying schedules throughout each profession. Unfortunately, some of the surveys were sent out at a less ideal time (ie. midterm, finals, spring break). This definitely could have played a role in the responses we received.

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    • Hi Bailey!
      Thanks for your comment!
      One of the limitations to this study was that the schedules of students who responded could play a role in the overall results. We did discuss this prior to sending out the survey, however, there was no ‘good’ way to control this factor with varying schedules throughout each profession. Unfortunately, some of the surveys were sent out at a less ideal time (ie. midterm, finals, spring break). This definitely could have played a role in the responses we received.

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    • Thank you for your question Bailey. We did believe that timing would play a role into our results. We attempted to avoid sending it out during finals because we knew that would be when students would most likely be having the highest levels of stress. The difficult thing was that depending on the timing, some students may have lots of assignments and test one week while a cohort in a different professional program may have less workload during the same week.

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  2. AUSTIN BUCHHOLZ (19 hours ago): Interesting project guys! I think we all suffer from stress and lack of sleep in grad school. Do you think there is (or did you notice) a correlation between perceived stress and GPAs? I.e. people being more stressed trying to be a high achiever or people with a high GPA having lower stress knowing they are in good standing academically.

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    • Thank you for your question Austin! Interestingly, the correlation between perceived stress and GPA levels were not significant. I liked your viewpoints on how students with higher GPAs may have increased perceived stress due to the effort in achieving those grades, or lower perceived stress due to feeling content with their GPA standings. I think various students would fit into each category, which may be why our findings were not significant. Great input!

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  3. HANNAH CASS (2 days ago): I think that this a super interesting and relatable study! I found it interesting to compare my screen time with others that are in the same program as me. I was wondering if you thought your findings might change when comparing one university to another? Maybe looking at different PT schools and the stresses and screen time comparisons between the schools would be interesting!

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    • Thanks for your question Hannah! Comparing results among various universities involved would be very interesting in terms of some schools possibly showing higher stress levels than others! I think findings would vary slightly when comparing to other universities depending on differences between time spent in class, curriculum, and time of year. Overall it would be interesting to compare the general screen times and perceived stress correlation among various universities to University of South Dakota to see if there are similarities!

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  4. KYLEIGH MORAN (2 days ago): Great job on your project, this is a very relevant topic to many people. You mentioned that one of your limitations was only including students in a health professional program. If other programs were included, would you have expected different results than what was found? Did you find any resources that found students in health professional programs report higher levels of stress, perfectionism, etc.?

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    • Kyleigh, we had multiple resources that found students in health professional programs reported higher stress. I included this section from our introduction for an example of one resource. “The source of stress coming from school and academic load was confirmed in the study done by Ellis & Briley1, where 80% of first-year and 50% of second-year SLP students believed their primary source of stress came directly from school/schedule/load in first-year students and school/clinic load/responsibilities in second-years.” Also, I would expect different results if compared to other programs. The health professional programs are rigorous in nature, so it would be interesting to see how these would differ from business or law programs.

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  5. ANDREW GUENTHER (2 days ago): I think this research topic is intriguing being a health professional student as well. I believe we disregard our own mental health as times to focus on school. Getting good grades is essential to do well and pass the programs, but we need to incorporate time for our physical, mental, and emotional health. I’m sure females are probably the majority of these health professional students, but did the different genders have differences in their answers for perfectionism, sleep, social media, and social media? I’m interested in knowing how the different genders scored these outcome measures compared to each other. Maybe this could be an idea for future research in this topic.

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    • Thank you Andrew for your questions! We had more females than males participate in our study but we did not find any significant differences between genders when it came to stress and perfectionism. We did however find that females had slightly higher social media usage which social media usage was linked to stress.

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  6. ABBY MYERS (4 days ago): I am very interested in this research topic. I believe that stress management and sleep quality is something that everyone could improve on. I was wondering if you believe that you would have the same results if you had an equal number of male and female participants. I would be interested…

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    • Great question! I am glad you asked it. I can not say for certain what would change with an equal number of male and female participants; however, I believe that our results would be slightly different. From the background information I know from research for our paper and poster as well as a quick search of the literature. Females are more likely to report higher levels of stress compared to males. That does not mean any for sure in regard to difference between genders so that would be interesting to analyze. I also think it would be interesting to compare what categories of the perceived stress scale (PSS) would differ between genders. Thanks for the question and please let us know if you have anymore.

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  7. BAILEY VOLMER (5 days ago): I love this study because I think we can all relate to it. I am sure we have all experienced the impact of these factors on our mental health at some point during our schooling. Has your group discussed what kind of strategies should be implemented into the program to assist with student’s stress management?

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    • I am so glad you enjoyed our study. It was fun to be a part of because of how relevant it is to us! We did not discuss strategies to assist with students stress in-depth; however, one of the things we discussed that could build off our study is taking the survey during different parts of the semester to compare stress. This could help for people to be provided resources such as a course of stress management or a number to a counselor if need. Just because these are some of the things you forget are available to you as a student when you are in the stressful part of the semester. I hope that answered your question. We are always open to suggestion of what may benefit us as student to pass on and give feedback to our facility! Please let us know if you have any more questions!

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  8. Great job everyone! This topic is very interesting to me as it is so applicable to our everyday life in graduate school. I am wondering if you guys examined each social media app individually at all? From personal experience, some apps seem as though they relieve my stress (watching a calming or humorous video on Instagram Reels or TikTok) and other apps seem as though they increase my stress (having many unopened notifications that require my response on Snapchat or the tendency to compare yourself to one another on Facebook or Instagram photos). It would be an interesting topic to research in the future if you did not examine between-app differences on the impact of stress in this study.

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    • Thank you for your question Rachel! We did not have the opportunity to examine each social media app individually. We tried to evaluate the extent as to which social media in general impacts an individual’s perceived stress levels; therefore, if an individual uses social media as a coping mechanism/ stress-reliever they would answer that question differently than an individual who gets little stress relief from social media, but we were not able to narrow results down to which specific social media app is creating more or less perceived stress. This is a great consideration and I am sure many students can relate to you in that some social media apps are more or less helpful with perceived stress than others!

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    • Great question Rachel. For our study, we did not individually examine each social media app, although this would be a great idea. One thing our group discussed when we were initially beginning our research was the topic of good stress vs. bad stress. I definitely agree with you that there can be apps that can relieve stress. In fact, there are specific apps out there (Curable) app that are related specifically to reducing bad stress. Our group examined the most popular “Social Media” apps with an emphasis on screen time on the phone. Our study aimed to see the relationships between screen time and bad stress, which could be determined through the Perceived Stress Scale. When examining our data, those who strongly agreed that social media has affected their stress levels showed higher average PSS scores than those who strongly disagreed.

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  9. As a self proclaimed perfectionist I think that this is a very interesting study and you guys did a great job. What would be your suggestions for trying to decrease stress when we are in such a high stressful part of our lives? Also I am very interested if one certain app like Instagram maybe made people’s stress or perfectionism score worse?

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    • Thanks for your questions Jolin! Suggestions for decreasing stress can vary depending on the person. It could be anything like exercise such as a walk or run, a phone call with a family member or friend, a book, a movie night, or something such as meditating. Finding what works for you is what is important. We did not look at specific apps for their own effects on stress or perfectionism. There are a few questions on the perfectionism questionnaire that we used that deals with how we compare ourselves to other which may be affected by social media.

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  10. Great job on your study! I liked that you included the undergraduate population in this study and about a quarter of your subjects were in this category. I am not surprised that the undergraduate health sciences/pre-professional students did not have anyone spend less than one hour on social media because it seems that they have more free time than graduate students. Do you think that if you included med students into this study, they would have more stress than other graduate programs, and how do you think the other factors would compare? I am also curious to know how students in different GPA categories compared to one another based on the factors looked at like higher GPA leads to more perfectionism, more/less stress, etc.

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    • Thank you for your comment Lainy! Interestingly, we found no significant differences in Total Perfectionism Score, Global Sleep Score, or Perceived Stress based on program or GPA category. In regards to med students having more stress than other programs, I think the results would be interesting and I am not confident in predicting a significant difference as their curriculum and program style is very different. I think a large factor within our study is that responses could vary depending on the schedule the students were having when they completed the survey.

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  11. Great job! This topic is very interesting and I believe is relevant to any graduate student in a health-related field of study. You mentioned in your limitations that the responses came from only one school. Did you try to reach out to other schools across the United States? If you had other schools participate, how would you think that would change the outcomes of your study? Also, you mentioned that managing stress is an important aspect for students in health professional programs. In what ways can you take the results from this study and promote healthy ways to cope with the stress of being in school? Great job everyone!!

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    • Madison, thank you for your question! We did not try to reach out to any other schools. I think it would change our data a little bit but would most likely have similar results. I think the results help point students and professors to be aware about the stress school can have. Programs providing opportunities to decrease stress and having available resources is a good direction to go from the results of this study.

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  12. Awesome job on this study! I think this research hits a little closer to home for us being in a graduate program currently. I would be interested to see how these responses would compare to undergrad students, and also between 1st and 2nd year graduate students. I feel like my ability to cope is much better as a 2nd year than it was as a 1st year. As far as progressing the study, do you guys think taking this information do you think stress levels would be similar in a 3 year PT program vs an online/hybrid based 2 year program? Those are becoming more popular I think and do you think incorporating that population would change some results?

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    • Thank you for your comments and question Tom! I would definitely agree that my ability to cope as a 2nd year student was much better than as a 1st year student. In regards to progressing this study and including an online/hybrid based 2 year PT-program, I think the timing of sending out the survey would be a large factor again. I am not familiar with how some of the online/hybrid programs are set up but I think perceived stress levels would vary between individuals. Some individuals may have less perceived stress with knowing their program duration is shorter and time without a job and paying tuition is shorter. On the other hand, some individuals may not be able to handle the pace of a 2-year program and have increased perceived stress due to the unending feeling of intense school work for those entire 2 years. Those are great thoughts!

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  13. This topic is very interesting to me for the fact that I currently have more stress being in grad school than I probably ever had in my life. My question is what were your personal biggest take aways from this project and how did you implement it into your own life to help manage grad school

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    • Great questions Tonner! The first two years of grad school was a definite challenge and test on my ability to handle my stress. Throughout this research project, I was a lot more aware of my sleeping habits and time spent on social media, as both of those areas I was really struggling with. I quickly realized that if I took the amount of time my phone told me I spent on social media per day and added onto my night of sleep, I would get at least an additional couple hours of sleep each night and have time for everything else I did in my day such as working out, studying, etc. Decreasing my social media and maintaining adequate amount of sleep were changes I found very helpful for my stress levels throughout my 2nd year of grad school!

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    • Great question Tonner. The biggest difference for me after doing this research was becoming more aware of the stressors in my life and doing the best I can to eliminate those. Outside of being in a graduate health program, there were many controllable stressors in my life that I was able to decrease or get rid of when I became aware. I believe this research can be an alley for students to begin to be conscious of the rigor a graduate program includes. When it comes to perfectionism, social media, and sleep, finding the best combination to where you can keep stress levels low to moderate for yourself will result in the best individual results!

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  14. Well done! This topic is very relevant, not only in graduate/undergraduate school but can impact work and home life as well. I noticed the clinical relevance introduces the teaching of importance of sleep, stress management, and social media use but do you have any educated evidence and advice on how to limit the social media use and improve sleep and stress management? I find this can be difficult for some individuals and future research and evidence-based information may help improve these factors. Also, are there results on any ways to reduce imposter syndrome/professionalism?
    Lastly, with this topic having effects on almost everyone in our world, do you think numbers would change if gender was equal?
    Overall, great job guys!

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  15. Great job on your presentation everyone! In my opinion, this topic is one of the most relevant and important for students at any education level. If you were to continue researching this topic what changes to the limitations addressed would be most important and why? Again, great job!

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    • Thank you for your comment Jacob! If I were to continue researching this topic, addressing the limitation of responses varying depending on the schedule the students were having when they completed the survey would be most important to me. This would be important to me because timing is such a critical piece of the results within this research study. If one participant completes the survey in the middle of finals week and another participant completes the survey during their time off after finals week, the perceived stress levels between the two participants would be drastically different. Perfecting the timing of sending out these surveys can be very challenging when including multiple programs as heavy exam weeks can be very different.

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    • Jacob, to offer a different viewpoint, I believe the fact that we only sent out the survey to one university would be important to address. Being out in clinical rotations and hearing from other students and PT’s how different each program is from one to the next has really surprised me. Having information from multiple universities would give a broad idea to the overall stress perceived in health professional graduate programs as a whole. Limiting our research to only one university may skew results depending on the curriculum, schedule, class load per semester, etc. There are so many avenues our research could have gone and I believe this topic of research has so many areas left to explore in the future!

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    • Thanks for your question, Jacob! This topic was very interesting for us to work on due to the relevance! Personally, I think that if the limitations of timing throughout the semesters where addressed it would alter the results of our study and would be very interesting to see the results. I feel as though I have different levels of stress throughout the semester and have more stress toward the end of the semester so it would be interesting to see if this is a trend across our research populations and professions. If the timing of our survey limitation was address I believe it would be the most important. It would also be interesting to analyze the difference between males and females in healthcare just because I have seen some research that women are more likely to report higher levels of stress. A research study without limitations at all would be very interesting for this topic and would help us I believe to analyze so much about health professionals so we could help to adjust levels of stress especially for students in school.

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  16. Good work with your research study and poster presentation! I thought your poster was visually appealing, and I really appreciated the color coding of the variables. This is such an interesting and relevant topic, and definitely something that needs to be researched more. I noticed that the participants in your study were predominantly female. Does this percentage reflect the gender ratio of enrollment to the various programs here at USD or do you believe females are just naturally more apt to participate? Do you think having mostly female participants was a limitation to your study? How do you think the results would play out if both genders were equally represented?

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    • Thank you, Jaci, for your question and compliments on our poster.
      As far as gender ratio’s here at USD, I cannot speak for the PA program or undergraduate program, but we do have a higher female ratio in the PT and OT programs.
      We haven’t discussed gender as a limitation, but it definitely could be considered. Every individual handles and percieves stress differently, whether gender plays a role or not. This would be a question to consider with further research.

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  17. Great stuff guys!

    Was there a measure of sleep quality? Or was it based on subjective reports?

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    • Thanks for the question Ryan! We use the Pittsburg Sleep Quality index which is a self reporting questionnaire in which it scores the quality of your sleep based on the questions.

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