The study reported here is taken from a wider investigation into stress among preregistration nursing students, undertaken in the nursing department of a large university in northern England. British nursing is divided into four specialties or 'branches': adult, mental health, children's, and learning disability nursing, and the aim of the study was to explore interbranch differences among the students in terms of the sources of stress they identify, the levels of stress they experience, and the ways in which they cope. A cross-sectional survey of all nursing students on the department's roll (n = 1362), using a range of self-report measures bound together in a 'questionnaire pack', was undertaken. The questionnaire pack contained formal measures of sources of stress (Student Nurse Stress Index), stress (specifically, psychological distress) (General Health Questionnaire) and coping (Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations), as well as a set of questions that enabled data on a range of pertinent variables, including the nursing branch being pursued, to be collected. The findings revealed that mental health nurses were notably different from the other three branches in terms of the quantity and characteristics of the sources of stress they faced, the levels of stress they experienced, and the ways in which they coped. These differences were largely advantageous to the students' well-being and speculations are made as to whether the concept of 'hardiness' - especially its focus on a sense of being in control - plays a role in explaining the findings. © 2007 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.
- Mental health