Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Stress is a concept that affects everyone and has been linked to increased incidences of depression and anxiety as well as causing a variety of physical symptoms. College students have been shown to be at an increased risk for higher levels of stress. While studies have been conducted looking at stress levels and causes of stress in undergraduate nursing students in other countries, very few of these studies have been conducted on a population of students within the United States. The purpose of this study was to examine variables that affect levels of stress in undergraduate Bachelor of Science nursing students from an accredited Midwestern nursing college. This study looked at perceived levels of stress in terms of demographic variables, physical and mental symptoms of stress, sources of stress, and coping mechanisms.

A questionnaire was developed by combining previously developed surveys on stress. Surveys integrated into the questionnaire included the Life Stress Questionnaire, brief COPE, and Psychological Stress Measure. The instrument measures stress symptoms, perceived levels of stress, sources of stress, and coping mechanisms. The survey was administered to students in three different semester levels within an accredited undergraduate school of nursing school in a Midwestern setting.

The results of this study revealed that stress has a significant impact on the lives of nursing students. A statistical significant association of increased age and higher levels of stress was found. School exams were found to be the largest source of stress followed by paperwork, clinical, and not enough money. The group with higher levels of stress reported using the following coping mechanisms to a significant degree: substance abuse, behavioral disengagement, venting, and self-blame.

The results of this study are helpful to better understand stress in baccalaureate nursing students. A better understanding of the variables that affect stress levels may help faculty implement interventions to reduce stress. Results may increase student awareness of sources of stress and coping mechanisms that have potential to decrease stress and improve the students’ physical and mental health.