Scholarly article on topic 'The Stress Coping Strategies and Depressive Symptoms in International Students'

The Stress Coping Strategies and Depressive Symptoms in International Students Academic research paper on "Psychology"

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Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Laura Sapranaviciute, Zilvinas Padaiga, Neringa Pauzienė

Abstract This study aimed to ascertain associations between stress coping strategies, socio-demographic factors and depressive symptoms in international students. Specific stress coping strategies and depressive symptoms were assessed in 98 international multicultural students. Stress coping strategies were measured by Coping Orientation of Problem Experience questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were assessed with Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale. It was ascertained that the use of stress coping strategies in international students differs due to their gender and course. Some of the stress coping strategies are indepen dently associated with depressive symptoms in international students.

Academic research paper on topic "The Stress Coping Strategies and Depressive Symptoms in International Students"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 84 (2013) 827 - 831

3rd World Conference on Psychology, Counselling and Guidance (WCPCG-2012)

The Stress Coping Strategies and Depressive Symptoms in

International Students

Laura Sapranaviciute*, Zilvinas Padaiga, Neringa Pauziené

_Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Mickeviaus str. 9, Kaunas 44307, Lithuania_

Abstract

This study aimed to ascertain associations between stress coping strategies, socio-demographic factors and depressive symptoms in international students. Specific stress coping strategies and depressive symptoms were assessed in 98 international multicultural students. Stress coping strategies were measured by Coping Orientation of Problem Experience questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were assessed with Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale. It was ascertained that the use of stress coping strategies in international students differs due to their gender and course. Some of the stress coping strategies are independently associated with depressive symptoms in international students. © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selectionandpeer-review under responsibility ofProf.Dr. HuseyinUzunboylu &Dr. Mukaddes Demirok, Near East University, Cyprus Keywords: stress coping, international students, depressive symptoms;

1. Introduction

In the host country international students meet a lot of stressful situations as language barriers, academic demands, homesickness, lack of social support (Poyrazli, Arbona, Nora, McPherson, Pisecco, 2002). To cope with these stressful situations they use some stress coping strategies (Berry, 1997). Stress coping is behavioral and cognitive persons' efforts to respond to internal or external demands, which are perceived as exceeding his resources (Lazarus, Folkman, 1984). Stress coping strategies are typical ways used by person to manage stressful situation (Endler, Parker, 1999). There is stated, that stress coping strategies of international students differ comparing to host students. Previous research established that international students use more denial, self-blame and behavioral disengagement coping strategies than domestic students (Chai, 2009). Another study showed that international students mostly used problem-oriented stress coping strategy, followed by searching for social support and behavioral disengagement strategy (Amponsah, 2010). Moreover, usage of stress coping strategies depends on length of time spent in the host country (Mena, Padilla, Maldonado, 1987) and gender of the student (Sapranaviciute, Perminas, Kavaliauskaite, 2011). The leading psychological problem in international students is depressive symptoms (Wei, Heppner, Mallen, Ku, Liao, Wu, 2007). In previous studies it was established that depressive symptoms are associated with stress coping of international students (Shuk-Nga Lau, 2007; Wei, Ku, Russel, Mallinckrodt, Liao, 2008). However there is no homogenous answer, which stress coping strategies are

Corresponding author name* Laura Sapranaviciute. Tel.: +0037062405798 E-mail address: laura.sapranaviciute@lsmuni.lt

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Huseyin Uzunboylu & Dr. Mukaddes Demirok, Near East University, Cyprus doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.655

associated with higher level of depressive symptoms. So the aim of this study was to ascertain associations between stress coping strategies, socio-demographic factors and depressive symptoms in international students.

2. Methods

2.1. Participants

A random sample of 100 international students was selected from Lithuanian University of Health Sciences medicine and odontology international students register. Data from 98 students from 1st to 6th courses were approved for statistical analysis. International students had come to Lithuania from a lot of different countries as Netherlands, Australia, Estonia, India, Iran, Spain, Israel, South Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Russian, Lebanon, Malaise, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and Germany. Participants aged 18-30 years (22.4±2.6). 70% were male and 30% - female. 27 % studied odontology and 72 % - medicine.

2.2. Measures

Stress coping strategies were measured with Coping Orientation of Problem Experience (COPE, Carver, Scheier, Weintraub, 1989). Questionnaire contains 60 items, 15 scales: positive reinterpretation and growth, mental disengagement, focus on and venting of emotions, use of instrumental social support, active coping, denial, religious coping, humor, behavioral disengagement, restraint, use of emotional social support, substance use, acceptance, suppression of competing activities, planning. Participants were asked to evaluate how typical this behavior is to them in stressful situation. Reliability of questionnaire was measured with Cronbach Alpha (0.5-0.93). Unreliable scales (Cronbach alpha < 0.6) such as mental disengagement, active coping and restraint were excluded from further analysis. Depressive symptoms were assessed with Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (Zung, 1976). The scale contains 20 items. Participants were asked to choose an answer, which better suits their condition in the last week. Reliability of the questionnaire was proved by Cronbach alpha - 0.81.

2.3. Statistical Analysis

Mean differences of stress coping strategies in gender, specialty and course groups were evaluated with T-test. Multivariate logistic regression was used to evaluate stress coping strategies associated with depressive symptoms.

3. Results

The usage of stress coping strategies was compared in male and female groups of international students (Table 1). T-test analysis confirmed that female students more often used stress coping strategies such as focus on and venting of emotions and emotional social support than male students. Other mean differences did not reached statistical significance.

Table 1. Stress coping strategies in male and female international students groups

Stress coping strategies Score. mcan±SE T

Male (n=69) Female (n=29) p

Positive reinterpretation and growth 12.2±2.2 12.0±2.0 0.41 0.68

Focus on venting of emotions 8.3±2.5 9.9±2.3 -2.91 <0.01*

Use of instrumental social support 10.2±2.9 11.3±2.4 -1.77 0.08

Denial 6.7±2.5 6.1±2.2 1.11 0.27

Religious coping 9.6±3.9 8.1±4.0 1.66 0.10

Humor 9.7±3.1 8.8±3.0 1.25 0.22

Behavioral disengagement 6.8±2.3 7.0±1.9 -0.26 0.79

Use of emotional social support 9.2±3.0 11.^±2.6 -3.46 <0.01*

Substance use 5.5±2.5 6.2±2.9 -1.19 0.24

Acceptance 10.4±2.4 10.6±2.3 -0.22 0.83

Suppression of competing activities 10.2±2.2 10.4±2.0 -0.34 0.74

Planning 11.9±2.3 11.8±1.8 -0.06 0.95

F^^ct, stress coping strategies were compared in freshmen and senior students' groups (Table 2). It was ascertained that senior students compared with freshmen more often used focus on and venting of emotions, religious coping and less often denial.

Table 2. Stress coping strategies in freshmen and senior year students' groups

Stress coping strategies Score. meaniSE T

Freshmen (n=27) Senior students (n=29) p

Positive reinterpretation and growth 12.0±2.2 12.^+2.1 -0.40 0.69

Focus on venting of emotions 7.8±2.3 9.2±2.6 -2.41 <0.05

Use of instrumental social support 10.3±2.3 10.6±3.0 -0.48 0.64

Denial 7.7±2.4 6.1±2.3 3.02 <0.01

Religious coping 7.0±3.1 10.0±4.0 -3.44 <0.01

Humor 8.9±2.5 9.6±3.3 -1.14 0.26

Behavioral disengagement 7.3±1.9 6.7±2.2 1.30 0.20

Use of emotional social support 9.4±2.0 9.9±1.8 -1.69 0.10

Substance use 6.1±3.3 5.5±2.3 0.99 0.41

Acceptance 10.1±2.1 10.6±2.5 -0.83 0.41

Suppression of competing activities 9.9±2.3 10.^+2.1 -1.18 0.24

Planning 11.6±2.1 12.0±2.2 -0.82 0.41

Also depressive symptoms of international students were analyzed. The mean of depressive symptoms scale among international students was 38.2±8.1. Although medicine students had higher level of depressive symptoms than odontology students, but the mean difference was statistically not significant (t=-0,8, p=0,37). The same tendencies were ascertained comparing level of depressive symptoms in female and male groups (t=0,64, p=0,52). Participants were distributed into two groups by terciles. First and second terciles reflect lower level of depressive symptoms, third tercile reflects higher level of depressive symptoms (Epstein, Shields, Franks, Meldrum, Feldman & Kravitz, 2007).

Finally, multivariate logistic regression analysis was done to analyze associations between depressive symptoms and stress coping strategies. Analyzes revealed that stress coping explains 51% of depressive symptoms variance controlling for demographical factors such as age, gender, specialty and course (p<0,001). More frequent use of such stress coping strategies as focus on and venting of emotions, behavioral disengagement, substance use and less

frequent use of strategies as positive reinterpretation and humors was associated with higher level of depressive symptoms.

Table 3. Associations between stress coping strategies and depressive symptoms in international students

Stress coping strategies OR" (95% CI)

Positive reinterpretation and growth 0.58 (0.40-0.85)**

Focus on venting of emotions 1.83 (1.29-2.61)**

Use of instrumental social support 0.96 (0.70-1.31)

Denial 1,15 (0.82-1.61)

Religious coping 1.08 (0.90-1.30)

Humor 0.68 (0.51-0.92)*

Behavioral disengagement 1.49 (1.01-2.19)*

Use of emotional social support 1.06 (0.79-1.42)

Substance use 1.42 (1.04-1.95)*

Acceptance 0.99 (0.75-1.32)

Suppression of competing activities 0.96 (0.65-1.43)

Planning 1.28 (0.85-1.91)

*p<0.05; **p<0.01, ORaadjusted for age, gender, specialty and course of students.

Pseudo ^statistics are derived from a logit model (probability of having higher level of depressive symptoms). Pseudo ^ =0.51

4. Discussion

The present study yielded a number of results about stress coping strategies connections with socio-demographical variables and depressive symptoms in international students. Comparison between male and female international students showed some significant differences: females in comparison to males used more focus on and venting of emotions and emotional social support stress coping strategies. These differences are in line with the earlier researches (Carver, Scheier, Weintraub, 1989; Sapranaviciute, Perminas, Kavaliauskaite, 2011).

Previous researches ascertained that stress coping in international students differ due to the length of stay in the host country. Those who lived in the host country for longer period of time tent to use more social support in stressful situations, while those who spent less time used problem oriented stress coping as planning more often (Mena, Padilla, Maldonado, 1987). In contrarily this study adds that senior students in comparison to freshmen are more likely to use focus on and venting of emotions, religious coping strategies and less likely to use denial coping strategy.

Our study affirmed that stress coping was strong predictor of depressive symptoms (Shuk-Nga Lau, 2007; Wei, Ku, Russel, Mallinckrodt, Liao, 2008). Use of focus on and venting of emotions stress coping strategy was the most strongly associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. The more students are engaged in emotions in stressful situation the more possibility there is for them to experience depressive symptoms, which is in line with other studies results (Sears, Urizar, Evans, 2000). Opposite probability has the use of positive reinterpretation and growth stress coping strategy. The more students are positive about stressful situation the less likely they will experience depressive symptoms. Of course, this is only the association and conclusions about causality can not be done from these results.

Previous studies identified that worse psychological adaptation of international students may be connected to avoidance coping (Wei, Ku, Russel, Mallinckrodt, Liao, 2008), less frequent use of religious coping (Chai, 2009) and social support (Bektas, Demir, Boden, 2009). However, the present study yielded some extra connections between stress coping strategies and depressive symptoms, which were not established in previous researches. Students who scored lower in humor and higher in behavioral disengagement and substance abuse had higher odds to have more depressive symptoms. So there is a probability that international students who laugh from the stressful situation more often are less likely to experience depressive symptoms than those who laugh less. Also students who tend to smoke or drink alcohol in stressful situations may have more depressive symptoms comparing to students who are not likely to engage in substance abuse.

There are some limitations, which have to be mentioned. In the study ethnicity of international students had not been controlled, because this international population contains students from huge variety of different nations. Moreover, this study was a relatively small study. Furthermore, causal pathways can not be determined from this

study.

Study revealed that the levels of depressive symptoms in international students are associated with stress coping strategies. Also, the usage of stress coping strategies depends from gender of the student and length of the stay in the host country.

References

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