Objective: The existence of test stress has been widely reported among professional students. To our knowledge, no studies exist that explore student stress response to objective structured clinical examinations. The aim of this study was to evaluate possible correlations between stress and objective structured clinical examination performance in a sample of chiropractic students.
Methods: A total of 116 students completed a 2-part questionnaire to assess test stress and the physiological symptoms and signs of stress. Heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic were measured during the physical examination laboratory class within the first 3 weeks and then again just prior to their objective structured clinical examination in week 5. Statistical tests were then performed for questionnaire data, heart rate and blood pressure differences, and correlation between the objective structured clinical examination grade and symptoms and signs.
Results: Questionnaire results showed that 5.1%–22.4% of students sometimes or often felt a certain degree of stress. More than 50% had 1 or more physiological symptoms and signs of stress. The objective structured clinical examination heart rate (75.23 ± 11.20 vs 68.16 ± 8.82, p < .001), systolic blood pressure (120.43 ± 9.59 vs 114.97 ± 11.83, p < .001), and diastolic blood pressure (73.00 ± 7.93 vs 69.32 ± 7.76, p < .001) were significantly higher than baseline. There were also negative linear correlations between objective structured clinical examination grades and physiological symptoms and signs and between objective structured clinical examination grades and feeling statement score.
Conclusion: The results support our hypothesis that chiropractic students experience stress when performing the objective structured clinical examination and that high levels of stress had a negative impact on performance.
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