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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 21, 2023

Stress, depression, and anxiety among undergraduate nursing students in the time of a pandemic

  • Wanda M. Chernomas EMAIL logo , Carla R. Shapiro , James C. Plohman and Rasheda Rabbani



Emerging literature reports on the challenges faced by nursing students internationally during the pandemic as they continue their education. The aim of this mixed methods study was to examine stress, depression, and anxiety among undergraduate nursing students at a Canadian university during the pandemic.

Theoretical Frameworks

Stress and coping and trauma theories informed this study.


Mixed methods included an online questionnaire composed of the Depression Anxiety Stress scales (DASS), sociodemographic data, and quality of life items with open-ended questions.


Sample included 280 participants. Mean scores for depression and stress were in the mild level, for anxiety in the moderate level; 24 , 37 and 23 % of the sample had scores of severe or extremely severe for depression, anxiety, and stress respectively. Written comments reflected the impact on participants’ relationships, motivation, struggles with remote learning, perceived heavy workloads, and impact on health and self-care, while some described positive experiences, including improved study habits.


Uncertainty, isolation, sudden and ongoing changes with program delivery and a variety of psychosocial losses, helped to explain the distress many shared. The disconnect between reported levels of use of mental health services and the higher levels of mental distress raises the question of access to and use of these services.

Implications for an International Audience

The importance of developing and maintaining effective coping, including a support system, and committing to healthy self-care during challenging times was reinforced.


This difficult time for nursing students emphasized the need to ensure attention to student well-being and mental health during their foundational educational experiences.

Corresponding author: Wanda M. Chernomas, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, College of Nursing, Winnipeg, Canada, Phone: 204 474 6819, E-mail:

Funding source: Self-funded

Award Identifier / Grant number: 324032

  1. Research ethics: This research was approved by the Research Ethics Board (REB1 – Fort Garry campus) at the University of Manitoba, where all authors are affiliated; protocol approval HS24540.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have made substantial contributions to the design, critique of the study, and to the analysis, as well as contributing to the analysis based on their expertise. Specifically, James Plohman and Rasheda Rabbani focused on the quantitative data analysis and Wanda Chernomas and Carla Shapiro focused on the qualitative analysis. All authors have contributed to the production of this manuscript either in drafting or reviewing critically for content.

  3. Conflicts of interests: We have no competing interest to declare.

  4. Research funding: This study was self-funded by one of the principal investigators from her travel and expense account.


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Received: 2022-09-02
Accepted: 2023-08-02
Published Online: 2023-08-21

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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