An integrative review on coping skills in nursing students: implications for policymaking

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Abstract

Aim

This study critically appraised both quantitative and qualitative studies describing coping strategies utilized by nursing students when faced with stress.

Background

Stress in nursing students during clinical training is well documented in the nursing literature. The need to utilize positive-coping strategies is necessary to effectively deal with stress and its accompanying stressors.

Methods

An integrative review method was used in this review. PsycINFO, PubMed, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), MEDLINE and Scopus were the databases used in searching for relevant literature using the following search terms; ‘coping’, ‘nursing students’, clinical training’, ‘ways of coping’ and ‘clinical practice’. A total of 27 studies published from 2001 to 2016 were included in this review.

Findings

Findings demonstrated that nursing students utilized problem-focused coping strategies rather than emotion-focused coping strategies. Specific coping behaviours utilized included problem-solving behaviours, self-confident approaches and seeking of support from family and friends.

Conclusion

The review contributes to the growing literature on coping strategies in nursing students and may have implications on nursing education and nursing policy. This review also demonstrated a scarcity of studies that links specific coping strategies to nursing school stressors and examines predictors of coping skills in nursing students.

Implications for nursing education

Institutionalization of structured student orientation programme, implementation of well-planned mentoring programmes and establishment of support unit/centres may be helpful in supporting nursing students during their clinical placement. By developing empirically based interventions, nursing faculty can assist nursing students in strengthening their positive-coping skills to effectively deal with various stressors encountered.

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