What are the stressors and coping strategies adopted by undergraduate healthcare students during placement?


This paper aims to explore what the current stressors and coping strategies are in placements for students in undergraduate healthcare programmes.

Pulido-Martos, Augusto-Landa and Lopez-Zafra (2012) suggest that stress levels among healthcare professionals are higher than other workers. Pryjmachuk, Easton and Littlewood (2009) found that approximately 25% of students withdrew from nursing courses due to emotional distress, difficulty in coping and placement. Literature highlights a lack of mentor support as a common stressor (Shivers, Hasson & Slater, 2017; Thomas & Westwood, 2016). However, the literature lacked any exploration into coping strategies. This research therefore focuses on the experiences of individuals from a variety of healthcare professions and explores the use of coping mechanisms.

A qualitative approach was used in order to gain in-depth responses about personal thoughts and experiences (Denny & Weckesser, 2018). A focus group was carried out with participants attending university who were recruited via purposive sampling from a wider convenience sample (Liamputtong, 2011). The data was then analysed using thematic analysis (Clarke & Braun, 2017).

The findings from this study demonstrate that several factors contribute to undergraduate healthcare student stress levels whilst on placement, affecting participants in different ways with some reporting thoughts of discontinuing the course. Five main themes were found in response to sources of stress: placement team, transport, academic factors, personal life and negative mood. Two common themes were found for coping strategies: socialising and distraction.

Gaining students’ perspectives is valuable in understanding issues and beginning to resolve them. This study highlights factors that impact on healthcare students’ stress levels whilst on placement, that also contribute to negative moods such as feeling tired, demotivated and angry. This study demonstrates the benefits of using socialisation and distraction. While healthcare is and will likely remain a stressful career route due to the pressures of care (Pich, 2018), this study highlights areas for improvement.


Placements, Student, Healthcare, Coping strategies, Stress

How to Cite

Hardy, K., (2020) “What are the stressors and coping strategies adopted by undergraduate healthcare students during placement?”, Fields: journal of Huddersfield student research 6(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/fields.663


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Kate Hardy (University of Huddersfield)





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