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The relationship among perceived social support, self-critical cognition and neurotic symptoms in rehabilitation medicine students : a correlational study McGinity, Alix M.


A review of the literature indicates that a significant number of students are psychologically distressed during their professional education. Most of the research in this area focuses on sources of stress for students, usually confined to factors within the scope of the educational experience. Researchers generally agree, however, that stress experienced in a given situation is largely a function of an individual's perception of the circumstances and that characteristics of the situation, characteristics of the individual and mediating factors external to the situation are all determinants. The purpose of this descriptive, exploratory study was to examine the relationship among the following psychological variables among second, third and fourth year students in a rehabilitation medicine program: (a) the perception of available social support and satisfaction with this social support, (b) the tendency to process self-relevant information in self-critical and self-defeating ways, and (c) the manifestation of psychological distress in the form of neurotic symptoms. A sample of 83 students (73 females and 10 males) in an occupational therapy and a physical therapy program completed the Social Support Questionnaire, the Self-Critical Cognition Scale, and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. The Social Support Questionnaire included two dimensions; (a) the availability of perceived social support; and (b) satisfaction with perceived social support. The Hopkins Symptom Checklist included five dimensions; (a) somatization; (b) obsession-compulsion; (c) interpersonal sensitivity; (d) depression; and (e) anxiety. A Pearson Product-moment correlational analysis was conducted on the two Social Support Questionnaire dimension scores, the five Hopkins Symptom Checklist dimension scores and the Self-Critical Cognition scores. A series of t tests were done to examine differences on the variables between occupational and physical therapy students as well as a one-way ANOVA among three groups according to the year in the program. The results showed that both perceived availability of social support and satisfaction with social support correlated significantly, in a negative direction, with self-critical cognition (p < .001). The two measures of the social support variable also correlated significantly, in a negative direction, with all dimensions of the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (p < .001) except somatization. There was no statistically significant difference between occupational therapy students and physical therapy students. The ANOVA revealed that third year students were statistically significantly more obsessive-compulsive than second and fourth year students (p < .05).

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