J. Leahy¹, Y. Lopez¹, N. Martin¹

¹Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA

PURPOSE: To evaluate the effectiveness of an online educational program on reducing perceived stress and improving well-being for undergraduate students through learned coping skills. Two hypotheses were developed: 1) pre/post-test scores for the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) will be significantly different, and 2) pre/post-test scores for the Flourishing Scale (FS) will be significantly different. METHODS: Twenty-one undergraduate students participated. A mixed methods approach was used, making pre-post quantitative comparisons using the PSS and FS scales, followed by structured open-ended survey questions. Questions were asked in the same order with identical follow-up prompts for all participants. Co-researchers individually coded survey items first through open coding, followed by group axial coding to ensure consensus, develop higher level concepts and sub-themes. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in pre (M=19.191, SD=7.39) and post PSS scores (M=18.91, SD=7.50); t(20)=-.202, p = 0.842. There was no significant difference in pre (M=44.14, SD=8.82) and post FS scores (M=45.52, SD=10.00); t(20)=-1.09, p = 0.29. Interpretative themes were identified through interview responses to the question “Would you say skills were useful, and why:” 83% indicated yes, with holistic relaxation, stress and anxiety minimizer, and partially useful as rationale. Additionally, interview responses to the question “List life moments in which you have found the coping skills beneficial to you” were grouped into the following themes: emotional distress, life transitions, and performance-based situations. Finally, all participants reported they knew someone who would benefit from the program, and 93.1% said they would recommend it to that person. CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate there were no differences in overall perceived stress following the intervention. However, significant increases in three PSS items showed less perceived control and greater emotional distress for unexpected inconveniences, but perceived well-being remained unchanged. Notably, participants reported they were able to apply learned techniques to various situations, and 93% responded they would recommend the educational program to someone they knew would benefit.

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