DOI: 10.1111/tct.13629 ISSN:

A brief intervention decreases student distress

Staci Macklin Shearin, Jijia Wang, Joan Reisch, Karen Brewer‐Mixon
  • Review and Exam Preparation
  • General Medicine


Purpose of the Article

Health professions graduate students have experienced substantial increases in stress and anxiety in recent years. This can result in decreased academic performance, poor retention, and burnout. Interventions to help students cope are therefore a critical need for academic institutions. The current study sought to demonstrate the effectiveness of a brief multimodal intervention in reducing student distress.


The study was a randomised controlled design that evaluated a brief intervention of cognitive‐behavioural therapy, mindfulness, and healthy lifestyle choices. The Depression Anxiety Stress Scale‐21 was administered to participants at baseline and two post‐intervention time points. Control participants did not participate in any intervention. Participants were recruited from graduate students in first‐year classes within the School of Health Professions at UT Southwestern Medical Center.


Analysis revealed an overall mild to moderate decline in Depression Anxiety Stress Scale‐21 total scores over three assessment periods for both treatment and control groups, with no statistical differences noted between groups; however, the treatment group's scores declined approximately 6 weeks before the control participants' scores declined.


The pattern of change in the two groups suggests that our intervention facilitated the reduction in student anxiety more quickly than would have occurred normally and with sustained results.

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