Controlling nursing students' anxiety, key to avoiding difficulties in their academic development

Research also confirms the efficacy of a rapid screening tool for this pathology

A research carried out in Lleida has confirmed the need to control anxiety in students of the Nursing Degree to avoid difficulties in the effective academic development of the students. In addition, it has validated the effectiveness of a tool for rapid detection of this pathology, the Visual Analogical Anxiety Scale (VAS-A). The research has been led by researchers from the Department of Nursing and Physiotherapy of the University of Lleida and the Research Group on Health Care (GRECS), with the collaboration of the Blanquerna Faculty of Health Sciences of the Ramon Llull University of Barcelona. The finding has been published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

"This research is of interest to the entire community that studies and/or works in the field of mental health and university teaching, given its focus on the diagnosis of anxiety in nursing students," confirmed one of the researchers, Olga Masot Ariño.

Anxiety is one of the most common problems among nursing students. To detect it, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) is used, but it is a long method that makes rapid detection difficult. In order to validate a faster and more effective instrument for its early detection, an observational study was carried out with 185 fourth-year nursing students. The results showed that the Visual Analog Anxiety Scale-Analog (VAS-A) is a useful and quick instrument to assess students in a crisis that could generate anxiety.

"In the context of health crises such as that of the first wave of COVID-19 (spring 2020) it becomes necessary to have assessment instruments that are efficient, fast and easy to use. In this sense, the study demonstrates that in this context a rapid detection of anxiety using the Visual Analogue Anxiety Scale (VAS-A) and an in-depth approach with the Sido-Saccade Anxiety Questionnaire (STAI) is possible" said the first author of the article and professor at the University of Lleida, Anna Lavedán Santamaría.

"It is crucial to evaluate and create resources to help nursing students to cope effectively with their emotions during periods of stress, such as the one experienced with the virtualization of teaching and the application of health care during the toughest months of the pandemic," added the researcher and dean of the Faculty of Nursing and Physiotherapy (FIF) of the UdL, Judith Roca Llobet.

This research also highlights the importance of monitoring anxiety, which can hinder the effective academic development of nursing students. To monitor anxiety, the research staff proposes to analyze and redistribute academic loads and clinical practices, improve current teaching methodologies and assessment systems, and explore psychological intervention strategies to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.

The research has been funded by the Biomedical Research Institute of Lleida Dr. Pifarré Foundation (IRBLleida) and the CERCA program of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Article: Lavedán Santamaría, A.; Masot, O.; Canet Velez, O.; Botigué, T.; Cemeli Sánchez, T.; Roca, J. Diagnostic Concordance between the Visual Analogue Anxiety Scale (VAS-A) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) in Nursing Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 7053.

The research has been led by researchers from the Department of Nursing and Physiotherapy of the University of Lleida and the Research Group on Health Care (GRECS)