Sunday, 14 August 2016

Adjusting to being a nursing student - does alcohol help?

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Being any kind of student is not easy, especially at the start of your course. Often you have moved away from home, you are entering an unfamiliar situation and all of this may be compounded by the difficulty of the programme and financial worries. Self-doubt sets in. Nursing students experience all of this and more as they have the added dimension of having to cope with clinical work and there has never been a nursing student who wondered if and how they were going to cope.

A study from Ireland by Horgan et al. (2016) titled:'Depressive symptoms, college adjustment and peer support among undergraduate nursing and midwifery students' and publised in JAN aimed to: 'to identify levels of depressive symptoms, social and personal college adjustment and peer support among nursing and midwifery students.'  Over 400 students were involved in completing a standard and validated set of instruments and the investigators looked at the relationship between what was measured.

All the key measures in the study were related: depressive symptoms, social adjustment, personal adjustment and peer support.  The quantity of alcohol the students consumed was related to depressive symptoms but not in the way that may be expected; those who consumed more alcohol appeared to be less depressed. However, the effect of this alcohol consumption had on academic performance was not studied and the authors were not advocating the use of alcohol.  Furthemore, other studies have shown contradictory results.

The authors concluded: 'Poor mental health of nursing and midwifery students may impact on both academic and clinical performance. As such, strategies need to be put in place to support healthcare students in striving toward positive mental health and well-being. These students are the future of the healthcare system and it is important that they are able to monitor their own mental health and seek treatment when needed.

You can listen to this as a podcast


HORGAN A., SWEENEY J., BEHAN L. & MCCARTHY G. (2016) Depressive symptoms, college adjustment and peer support among undergraduate nursing and midwifery students Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.13074

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