The Influence of Acculturative Stress on Academic Performance in First Year Undergraduate Nursing Students

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Nathan Attwood, BN1
Yenna Salamonson, PhD, RN, BSc, CCUCert, GDNEd, MA2
Roslyn Weaver, PhD, BA (Hons)1
Paul J. Glew, EdD, RN, BN, BEd, GradCertClinSc (ICN), MN3
Bronwyn Everett, PhD, RN, BAppSc (Nurs), MSc4
Jane Koch, RN, RNT, MA5
(1)School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, Australia
(2)School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Penrith South DC NSW, Australia
(3)School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Penrith South, Australia
(4)Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Health, University of Technology Sydney & University of Western Sydney, Broadway, Australia
(5)Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, Centre for Cardiovascular & Chronic Care, Sydney, Australia

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand the difficulties faced by nursing students who are recent arrivals to Australia, or any other host country.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to identify strategies to reduce acculturative stress and to ameliorate any negative impact on students' academic performance.

Purpose: Acculturative stress refers to the negative psychological impact of adaptation to a new culture. For nursing students who are also new arrivals to Australia, challenges related to the adjustment to a new cultural environment may have an impact on their academic performance. This study examined the relationships between acculturative stress, generational status, English language usage and year of arrival to Australia among first year nursing students. We also examined the relationship between acculturative stress and academic performance at the 12-month follow-up.

Methods: A total of 514 first year undergraduate nursing students studying in the western region of Sydney participated in the study. Demographic characteristics, English language usage measured by the English language acculturation scale (ELAS) and acculturative stress levels as measured by the acculturative stress index (ASI) were collected. Generational status was determined by asking the participant’s and both parents’ place of birth. Consent was obtained to link participants’ completed survey to their academic grades.  The university Human Research Ethics Committee approved the study.  A P value of <0.05 was considered as statistically significance.

Results: There was a statistically significant positive correlation between ASI scores and generational groups (r=0.50, p<0.001), and significant negative correlations between ASI score and length of residence in Australia (r=-0.23, p<0.001) and ELAS score (r=-0.42, p<0.001). Those who spoke other than English at home had higher ASI scores compared to those who spoke only English at home (p<0.001).  An inverse and statistical significant relationship (p<0.001) was uncovered between the ASI scores and mean Grade Point Average (GPA) at the 12-month follow-up.

Conclusion: Results from this study highlight the importance of providing services that enhance students English language fluency and provide social support to build social connections, particularly for students who are new arrivals to Australia.