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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 219-224

Trait anxiety and stress level among university students and teachers: A comparative study


MYAS-GNDU Department of Sports Sciences and Medicine, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab, India

Date of Submission14-Mar-2020
Date of Decision17-May-2020
Date of Acceptance09-Aug-2020
Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Amrinder Singh
MYAS-GNDU Department of Sports Sciences and Medicine, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjab
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_39_20

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  Abstract 


Objectives: Variations in work-related stress, anxiety, and physical activity levels have been seen with an emphasis on sex differences. This cross-sectional study was designed to report the gender difference in stress dynamics, trait anxiety, and physical activity and propose a framework for finding out the source causing these differences. Hence, the aim of the study is to find out the comparison of these variables between teachers and students. Methodology: A cross-sectional study was designed which analyzed 120 participants consisting of teachers of assistant professors grade (n = 60) and students (n = 60) from various teaching departments in Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Further these subjects were categorized into male and female participants. For which, validated questionnaires and methods were used to measure stress and anxiety among these group of participants. Physical activity levels were also measured with a questionnaire focusing on lifestyle. Results: The perceived stress measured by the Perceived Stress Scale-14 and trait anxiety measured by the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, did not show any significant differences between female participants (37.54 ± 7.27 and 38.85 ± 7.02, respectively) as compared to male participants (37.91 ± 7.11 and 38.14 ± 5.85, respectively). However, higher physical activity expenditure was observed in male students as compared to their female counterparts, which is measured by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire in metabolic equivalent (MET) (3293 ± 1698 and 2234 ± 1674, respectively). Conclusion: Teachers had higher trait anxiety than students. A student shows a higher level of stress and MET values than a teacher. Female teachers showed a higher level of trait anxiety and stress than male teachers but had a lesser value of MET than male teachers. Female students shows greater anxiety level whereas male students shows increased stress level as compared to their respective counterparts. Male students had a higher value of MET.

Keywords: Gender difference, perceived stress, physical activity, trait anxiety


How to cite this article:
Singh A, Mall S, Shenoy S, Sandhu JS. Trait anxiety and stress level among university students and teachers: A comparative study. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2021;37:219-24

How to cite this URL:
Singh A, Mall S, Shenoy S, Sandhu JS. Trait anxiety and stress level among university students and teachers: A comparative study. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 28];37:219-24. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2021/37/2/219/320221




  Introduction Top


Stress is an unavoidable thing in every aspect of life. It generally leads to an emotional imbalance which may be due to several reasons such as tests, papers, and projects; competition within your field; financial worries about school; and future job prospects.[1]

Trait anxiety is stated as a person's stable ability to attend the experience and report negative emotions such as fears, worries, and anxiety across many situations. It is a part of the personality dimension of neuroticism versus emotional stability. It is also defined as repeated concerns about and reporting of body symptoms. It is mainly characterized by a stable perception of environmental stimuli such as events and other's statements as threatening.[2]

A study conducted among Malaysian university students between the age group of 20 and 24 concluded that depression, anxiety were significantly higher in male students as compared to the female students.[3]

It has been found that college students are normally more passionate than school-age students. They need proper guidance in this particular stage. Almost all people experience certain amount of stress in their life, but excessive stress may cause anxiety and it is harmful to health. The levels of stress are different among students and also different between both genders. Education is known to be very stressful with negative effects on a student's mental health.[4]

It is suggested that an optimal level of stress can increase the learning ability.[5] However, too much stress can cause physical and mental health problems and can reduce students' self-esteem and may affect students' academic achievement.[6] Numerous studies have found that stress in students is associated with anxiety and depression,[7] interpersonal conflicts,[8] sleeping problems,[9] and lower academic and clinical performance.[6] There is some evidence of student suicide[10] and drug abuse.[11],[12]

A teacher's stress is defined as his/her experience of unpleasant emotions, such as tension, frustration, anxiety, anger, and depression, which result from the aspects of his/her work.[13] Teacher burnout may be defined as the syndrome that results from prolonged teacher stress, generally characterized by physical, emotional, and attitudinal exhaustion.[14]

A study found that school boys are more stressed than school girls. This might be due to the higher expectations and responsibilities that parents impose on boys as well as the high standard goals that boys need to attain in their plans.[15] Premature mortality is one of the important consequences of stress or chronic stress.[16] Bad effects of stress result from the interaction between the stressors and a person's perceptions and reaction to these stressors. Various musculoskeletal disorders, high blood pressure, disturbed metabolism (associated with the risk for Type 2 diabetes mellitus), and cardiovascular problems may result from stress with increasing age.[17] However, stress and anxiety can have an impact on the occupational life of both students and teachers, hence a survey is required for the evaluation of these variables.


  Methodology Top


Teachers (assistant professor grade) and students in various teaching departments in Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, Punjab, India, were recruited for the present analytical cross-sectional study. The recruitment was done on a volunteer basis and those fulfilling the inclusion criteria of our study were enrolled. A total of 120 participants who volunteered were included in the study. The categorization was made according to gender, which included sixty students and sixty assistant professors with students' mean age of 24.69 ± 1.88, teachers' mean age of 34.83 ± 2.67, male teachers' mean age of 35.17 ± 2.84, female teachers' mean age of 34.51 ± 2.51, female students' mean age of 24.66 ± 2.186, and male students' mean age of 24.73 ± 1.55. There were a total of 39 undergraduate students and 21 postgraduate students. Those who had incomplete participation in the study were excluded from the study. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is a 14-item self-report measure designed to assess the degree of stress in one's life. The highest possible score is 56 because the questions are rated from 4 to 0 and negative questions are also rated on the opposite scale score. The positive element evaluates the ability to deal with perceived stressors, whereas the negative one focuses on the assessment of lack of control, negative emotions, and negative reactions. On the other hand, anxiety is measured with a 20-item self-report assessment questionnaire built to measure anxiety levels, based on scoring in four groups of manifestations, namely, cognitive, autonomic, motor, and central nervous system symptoms named as Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS). The SAS is composed of four factors including (1) anxiety and panic, (2) somatic control, (3) vestibular sensations, and (4) gastrointestinal/muscular sensations. The physical activity is measured by a long-lasting 7-day self-administered version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ, 2002).

Data collection

The teachers and students were evaluated for various parameters regarding stress and physical activity. The data collection started when the teachers and students arrived to their respective departments. They were asked to fill up the questionnaires, including history, the PSS 14 questionnaire (PSS-14, 1983), SAS-1992, and IPAQ questionnaire (2005).

Statistical analysis

Descriptive statistics (mean ± standard deviation) and nonparametric test such as Mann–Whitney U were used to compare difference between means of two sample groups. A 5% level of probability was used to indicate statistical significance. Statistical analysis was performed using statistical software IBM SPSS statistics (version 23) International Business Machines (IBM), Illinois, Chicago, USA.


  Results Top


Descriptive statistics of SAS, PSS-14, and IPAQ scores of assistant professors and students of GNDU, Amritsar, are shown in [Table 1]. Assistant professors had higher mean value in age and SAS score (34.83 years and 37.41 scores, respectively) than their student's participant counterparts (24.7 years and 37.61 scores, respectively). However, higher mean values of PSS-14 and IPAQ scores were noted in student participants (38.3 and 3229.38 scores, respectively) as compared to assistant professors (37.41 and 2510.8 scores, respectively). However, statistically, no significant differences were depicted in both groups of participants.
Table 1: Descriptive statistics of Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, Perceived Stress Scale-14, and International Physical Activity questionnaire scores in assistant professors and students of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

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Descriptive statistics of SAS, PSS-14, and IPAQ scores in both male and female assistant professors of GNDU, Amritsar, are shown in [Table 2]. There was higher mean value in SAS and PSS-14 scores in female participants as compared to their male participant counterparts (39.67 and 37.74 scores, respectively, and 39.17 and 37.06, respectively), however there was higher value of metabolic equivalent (MET) of task in male participants as compared to female participants (3597.58 and 1494.13, respectively). Statistical significance was seen in MET in both groups.
Table 2: Descriptive statistics of Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, Perceived Stress Scale-14, and International Physical Activity Questionnaire scores in both male and female assistant professors of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

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Descriptive statistics of SAS, PSS-14, and IPAQ scores in both male and female students of GNDU, Amritsar, are shown in [Table 3]. As shown in the table, females had higher mean value of SAS and lower value of PSS-14 as compared to males (38.00 and 37.33 scores, respectively, and 37.23 and 38.73, respectively), however there was increased MET value in males as compared to females (3460.1 and 2998.66, respectively). Statistical significance was seen in MET in both groups.
Table 3: Descriptive statistics of Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, Perceived Stress Scale-14, and International Physical Activity Questionnaire scores in both male and female students of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

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Descriptive statistics of SAS, PSS-14, and IPAQ scores in both female students and female assistant professors of GNDU, Amritsar, are shown in [Table 4]. As shown in the table, there was higher anxiety and stress level in female teachers rather than female students (40 and 38, respectively, and 37 and 38, respectively), whereas lower physical activity was seen among teachers (1494 and 1918, respectively).
Table 4: Descriptive statistics of Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, Perceived Stress Scale-14, and International Physical Activity Questionnaire scores in both female students and female assistant professors of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

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Descriptive statistics of SAS, PSS-14, and IPAQ scores in both male students and male assistant professors of GNDU, Amritsar, are shown in [Table 5], which indicates the slighter higher anxiety level and lower stress level in male teachers compared to male students (37 and 39, respectively, and 39 and 37, respectively), whereas lower physical activity was seen in male teachers rather than male students (3598 and 4541, respectively).
Table 5: Descriptive statistics of Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, Perceived Stress Scale-14, and International Physical Activity Questionnaire scores in both male students and male assistant professors of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar

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Demographic description of the participants according to their subcategory is shown in [Table 6], which shows the distribution of male and female students and teachers based on percentage count in which students were further divided into their subcategory. There were a total of 39 undergraduate students and 21 postgraduate students 19 male and 12 female students are graduates and 13 male and 8 female students are postgraduates.
Table 6: Demographic description of the participants according to their subcategory

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  Discussion Top


This study investigates the level of perceived stress and anxiety-like behaviors in male and female assistant professors and students in a university. It has been stated that in the differential vulnerability hypothesis, the employed females are under more stress than employed males under the same social-environmental cues, explaining high perceived stress among female teachers working in this setup of a public teaching institute.[18] Male teachers are more stressed than female teachers in cases of inter-role distance and role inadequacy. Role ambiguity and role conflict were also correlated with work stress. There should be various programs assigned, which will be gender specific and must consider assistant professors and students working on various designations, and this includes the promotion of various methods of living a healthy lifestyle by including physical activity and healthy eating habits to the daily routine.

To the best of our knowledge, the literature has lacunae for the gender differentiation of psychological stress among students and assistant professors. This study is one of its kinds which fills the void by the inclusion of validated questionnaires and modalities for the assessment of psychological stress and physical activity levels among male and female students and assistant professors and includes the promotion of various ways of living a healthy lifestyle by including physical activity and healthy eating habits.

Special emphasis should be given to students and assistant professors irrespective of the gender, by the inclusion of counseling to overcome their stress and anxiety. This might help to lead a healthier and less stressful life in students and assistant professors without hampering their efficacy at work. Moreover, they should also indulge in some extracurricular activities apart from their occupational work to reduce the stress and anxiety in their daily life. It has been suggested that female students react differently with stress than male students, so this will help them to improve their performance.[19] In a study it was found that if we analyze the separate determinants of exercise in both male and female, then the different factors are been found. For females, the Family support was a significant predictor of physical activity, but in case of males, friends support was significant.[20]


  Conclusion Top


The present study reveals the stress and anxiety variations in the education system, especially in teachers and students. The present study states that teachers show significantly higher trait anxiety than student participants. It can be due to family and job responsibility which they carried out throughout their routine. Family responsibilities include their parents' responsibility, their children's education, and their partner's responsibility. On the other hand, the job responsibility includes their students' performance and their job insecurity. Besides this, students feel more stress and have higher physical activity than teachers. It is because students have the fear of examinations. Almost every student feels pressure of giving examination and they are also concerned about their result. Hence, this can cause more stress in students rather than in teachers. Moreover, if we consider their physical activity, normally students involve in outdoor games more than teachers. Furthermore, it is normally seen that students mostly come to the school by bicycle, whereas teachers generally come in bike or car. Hence, this will reduce their physical activity level. Moreover, teachers do not indulge in outdoor physical activities due to lack of time due to their family responsibilities,. This can cause decreased physical activity among them than students. In order to maintain good and creative professionals within the education system, teachers and students need to be able to cope with the stress they experience in the college setting. College psychologists need to support teachers and students in coping with their occupational stress. Doing this will ultimately improve the quality of education for students as well as teachers.

Ethical considerations

The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee, GNDU, Amritsar, Punjab, India.

Financial support and sponsorship

The study was conducted at MYAS-GNDU Department of Sports Sciences and Medicine, GNDU, Amritsar, Punjab, India. This center is funded by the Ministry of Youth affairs and Sports Government of India.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]



 

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