Examination stress in academic students: a multimodal, real-time, real-life investigation of reported stress, social contact, blood pressure, and cortisol

Susanne Koudela-Hamila, Joshua Smyth, Philip Santangelo, Ulrich Ebner-Priemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Academic examinations are a frequent and significant source of student stress, but multimodal, psychophysiological studies are still missing. Participants & methods: Psychological and physiological variables were assessed on 154 undergraduate students in daily life using e-diaries resp. blood pressure devices at the beginning of the semester, and again before an examination. Results: Multilevel analysis revealed lower calmness, more negative valence, higher task-related stress, higher demands, lower perceived control, lower frequency of social contact, and a higher desire to be alone during the examination period (all p values <.0001), as well as lower ambulatory systolic blood pressure (p =.004), heightened cortisol at awakening (p =.021), and a smaller increase in cortisol (p =.012). Conclusions: Our study revealed empirical evidence that examination periods are not only associated with indicators of dysphoria, stress, and social withdrawal but also by altered physiological processes, which might reflect anticipatory stress and withdrawal effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of American College Health
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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