Exploring Stress Resilience and Physical Activity Amongst Australian Nursing Populations During Coronavirus 2019

[thumbnail of ARMSTRONG_Samantha-Thesis_nosignature.pdf]

Armstrong, Samantha J (2023) Exploring Stress Resilience and Physical Activity Amongst Australian Nursing Populations During Coronavirus 2019. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Research investigating physical activity and stress resilience is emerging yet burgeoning. The current dissertation aimed to further ascertain the relationship between physical activity and stress resilience and to investigate the use of physical activity as a facilitator of stress resilience amongst Australian nurses during a pandemic. Further, the project focused on different nursing populations and their psychological wellbeing during Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Three independent but interconnecting studies are included in the dissertation to investigate these aims. The primary purpose of Study 1 (Chapter 3) was to investigate stress resilience, stress, and burnout of hospital staff (predominately nurses) via monthly cross-sectional surveys from August 2020 to March 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from 558 surveys revealed an increase in burnout over time, coupled with negative relationships observed between stress resilience and burnout and between stress resilience and stress. Study 1 indicated declining psychological wellbeing of hospital staff due to COVID-19. Study 1 prospected the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and created a baseline for the relevant psychological variables, yet an understanding of positive health-related behaviours, such as physical activity that may improve stress resilience was warranted. The purpose of Study 2 (Chapter 4) was to determine the strength of the relationship between physical activity and stress resilience, burnout, and distress amongst emergency department nurses across two cross-sectional surveys that were conducted prior to and during COVID-19. Overall, the nursing population showed little engagement in physical activity; therefore, no relationships were found between stress resilience and physical activity parameters both before and during the pandemic. The sample also showed poorer psychological health outcomes during, in comparison to before, the pandemic. Study 2 could not indicate a potential relationship between physical activity and resilience due to limited engagement in physical activity overall; therefore, a physical activity intervention study was required to further understand the relationship between the relevant variables. The purpose of Study 3 (Chapter 5) was to conduct an eight-week feasibility intervention, with a mixed-method design to compare the effectiveness of an online, highintensity physical activity intervention (conducted via YouTube) and an online, mindfulness intervention (using The Resilience Project application) on 12 student-nurses to improve stress resilience during COVID-19. Stress resilience was measured by questionnaires and cardiovascular parameters during a stress test conducted at pre- and post-intervention. Quantitative results indicated improvements in physiological parameters after eight weeks for both the physical activity and mindfulness intervention, yet no changes were apparent for psychological parameters across the intervention. Qualitative analysis indicated improvements in both physiological and psychological stress resilience and emerging themes included personal growth and coping skills. The study provides evidence that physical activity may optimise stress resilience and also highlights the potential for mindfulness practice to promote stress resilience. Overall, this dissertation provides evidence that there is a weak relationship between stress resilience and physical activity, yet the impact of COVID-19 may have heavily influenced results and weakened the stress resilience-physical activity relationship. Further, it was apparent that COVID-19 negatively affected the mental health of various nursing populations. A comparison of the current findings and the research on stress resilience during and outside of COVID-19 are discussed, as well as practical implications, limitations, and proposals for future research.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/48043
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4205 Nursing
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords burnout; stress; resilience; COVID-19; Coronavirus; pandemic; physical actvity; Australia; psychological wellbeing; mindfulness; mental health; emergency personnel; hospitals; hospital staff; nurses
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login