Coping efficacy and perceived family support: potential factors for reducing stress in premedical students

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

This study investigated the relationship between perceived family support and coping efficacy in premedical (i.e. prior to entering medical school) students, an understudied subset of undergraduate students who are particularly at risk for academia- related stress. The relationships between students' perceived academic coping abilities and their academic behaviours and experiences of stress have been considered within the vocational literature. However, an understanding of factors that inform coping efficacy beliefs is lacking.

METHODS

A total of 238 premedical students provided demographic information regarding themselves and their parents. Students also completed a paper questionnaire containing a coping efficacy scale and items assessing their level of family support.

RESULTS

Correlational analyses revealed significant positive relationships between family support and students' perceived abilities to cope with anticipated academic barriers as hypothesised. Bivariate comparisons of mean coping efficacy scores revealed that racial or ethnic minority students reported significantly higher coping efficacy beliefs than did White students. Students with doctor mothers also reported significantly higher coping efficacy than students with mothers employed in other health-related fields. No significant differences in coping efficacy were found when those with doctor fathers versus those with fathers in other health-related fields were compared.

CONCLUSIONS

Findings from the present study indicate that perceived family support plays a key role in establishing premedical students' confidence in their ability to cope with the challenges of academic life. These findings have important implications for further studies on coping and stress in premedical students.

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