Give nursing students personality profiles for greater self-efficacy, say researchers

Study results show possible benefits of 'tailored interventions' to suit nursing students' personalities.

Universities should develop interventions to increase nursing students’ sense of self-belief in managing challenging situations, according to researchers.

Roberta Fida, a lecturer in organisational behaviour at the University of East Anglia, is leading an ongoing study of 1,650 nursing students enrolled in 18 schools of nursing across Italy.

Students undertook a questionnaire about themselves that covered their abilities to manage emotions, social relationships and studying. The students then received a personality profile with a psychologist.

The preliminary results, published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, were collated yearly on two cohorts of students between 2011 and 2013 during their first and second years of study.

Dr Fida said the results show the importance of students being aware of their self-efficacy, which will in turn promote wellbeing and prevent depression.

She explained: ‘We found there are groups of students more at risk than others of depression because they have lower perceptions of their capabilities and find it more difficult to manage negative emotions, social relationships and studying.

‘Once universities have an idea of each student’s profile, an intervention could be tailored to suit each person.’

She gave an example of an intervention aimed at developing planning capabilities, time management strategies and teamwork skills which could be targeted at students with lower levels of social skills and self-regulated learning.

Students who perceive themselves as less able to manage negative emotions could benefit from interventions specifically aimed at developing emotional regulation competencies in stressful situations, she said.

‘It is important to acknowledge that there might not be a one-size-fits-all programme for nursing,’ said Dr Fida. ‘Existing literature largely supports the fact that individuals with stronger self-efficacy perform better both at school and at work, are more likely to get jobs and are generally more satisfied.’