Mentally Demanding Work and Strain: Effects of Study Duration on Fatigue, Vigor, and Distress in Undergraduate Medical Students
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Study Participants
- Phase 1: Five consecutive days (Mon–Fri, in March) ten weeks before the final exam constituted phase 1. During this week, students attended compulsory classes for a total of 24 h.
- Phase 2: The Tuesdays in the four weeks before the exam (the last of these Tuesdays being the day before the exam, in June) and the exam day constituted phase 2.
- Phase 3 included the eleven days (Thur–Sun) following the exam in July. During phases 2 and 3, no compulsory classes took place.
2.3.1. Independent Variable—Study Duration
2.3.2. Control Variables
- Sleep duration of the preceding night (self-reported) was included to control for present-day sleepiness.
- Proximity to exam (i.e., the number of days preceding or following the exam, based on the time stamp in the online tool) was included to control for variations in students’ changes in examination stress throughout the term.
- The previous day’s compulsory classes (yes/no, based on class schedule) and the previous day’s paid work (yes/no, self-report) were included to control for changes in the ability to control one’s study schedule because of other responsibilities.
- Time of questionnaire completion (based on the time stamp in the online tool) was included to control for strain-related effects of the circadian rhythm.
- Additionally, gender (self-report) was included.
2.3.3. Dependent Variables
- Fatigue was assessed with eight adjectives (e.g., “tired”) and had a scale reliability (Cronbach’s Alpha) of CA = 0.91.
- Vigor was assessed with seven adjectives (e.g., “full of energy”) with a scale reliability of CA = 0.94.
- Distress was assessed with five adjectives (e.g., “nervous”) and had a scale reliability of CA = 0.85.
2.4. Data Analysis
2.4.1. Descriptive Statistics
2.4.2. Hypotheses Testing
2.5. Data Selection
- One individual was not included due to employed work of more than 20 h per week, which was against the recommendation for studying in the full-time program.
- The data from three students were excluded because the time stamp revealed that they self-rated their daily subjective strain “on bulk” for several days at the end of each phase instead of completing the questionnaire each day, as instructed.
- The data of six students were excluded because they were not compliant with the instruction to complete the rating as close to 18:00 as possible. Completing the rating after 22:00 or before 14:00 was arbitrarily defined as non-compliant.
3.1. Descriptive Statistics
3.2. How Do Short Work Periods of Mentally Highly Demanding Work Impact Strain Reactions in Students Preparing for an Exam?
3.2.1. Fatigue (Hypothesis One)
3.2.2. Vigor (Hypothesis Two)
3.2.3. Distress (Hypothesis Three)
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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4–1 Week(s) Pre-Exam
|sleep duration (hours)||6.8||1.5||7.4||1.4||7.8||2.1||7.4||1.7|
|proximity to exam (days(−1))||0.014||0.000||0.323||0.360||0.207||0.129||0.177||0.245|
|compulsory classes (yes)||138||100%||0||0%||0||0%||138||34%|
|paid work (yes)||7||5%||9||7%||17||11%||33||8%|
|questionnaire completion (hour, h.h)||18.8||1.8||18.2||1.8||18.2||1.8||18.4||1.8|
|≥7 h||6.3||1.3||23.023 **||−0.98||1.3||0.591||4.8||0.79||36.858 **|
|5–6 h||3.3||1.2||6.923 *||−1.2||1.2||0.932||4.8||1.0||21.665 **|
|3–4 h||0.85||1.1||0.599||0.22||1.1||0.040||2.8||0.65||18.367 **|
|1–2 h||1.2||1.2||0.956||−0.86||1.2||0.520||1.7||0.76||4.89 *|
|sleep duration (hours)||−0.85||0.2||13.624 **||0.26||0.24||1.131||0.06||0.11||0.382|
|yesterday’s compulsory classes (yes)||0.75||1.2||0.408||−0.80||1.0||0.639||−0.79||0.64||1.516|
|yesterday’s paid work (yes)||2.1||2.2||0.939||0.25||2.1||0.014||1.3||1.5||0.790|
|proximity to exam |
|6.8||1.6||17.700 **||−8.8||1.4||39.911||3.3 **||1.2||7.540 **|
|questionnaire completion (hour)||0.26||0.19||1.824||−0.38||0.2||2.559||0.07||0.16||0.200|
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Blasche, G.; Khanaqa, T.A.K.; Wagner-Menghin, M. Mentally Demanding Work and Strain: Effects of Study Duration on Fatigue, Vigor, and Distress in Undergraduate Medical Students. Healthcare 2023, 11, 1674. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11121674
Blasche G, Khanaqa TAK, Wagner-Menghin M. Mentally Demanding Work and Strain: Effects of Study Duration on Fatigue, Vigor, and Distress in Undergraduate Medical Students. Healthcare. 2023; 11(12):1674. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11121674Chicago/Turabian Style
Blasche, Gerhard, Tav A. K. Khanaqa, and Michaela Wagner-Menghin. 2023. "Mentally Demanding Work and Strain: Effects of Study Duration on Fatigue, Vigor, and Distress in Undergraduate Medical Students" Healthcare 11, no. 12: 1674. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11121674