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Exploring personal attribution styles and stress responses in medical students - an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Vibholm, Julie (2015) Exploring personal attribution styles and stress responses in medical students - an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This was a qualitative study exploring personal attribution styles amongst a group of medical students, in relation to their physiological and psychological stress response. Medical students perceive higher levels of stress compared to other student populations (Sohail, 2013). This research aimed to explore how personal attribution styles are related to the subjective experience of stress. Within this were 5 objectives; to explore how they make sense of their physiological and psychological reactions to stress; attributional styles; gender differences and the experience of stress; individual experiences of stress and eustress and coping mechanisms in relation to attribution theories. A snowball sample of six medical students, in an equal proportion of genders, was invited to keep a diary to capture present accounts of the meanings they ascribe to their stress response. A focus group interview was then carried out to obtain a retrospective account of their experiences. After an interpretative phenomenological analysis was carried out, the two main themes that emerged were attribution of stress and gender differences. This research concluded that even though the participating medical student attribute the causes of their stress to their degree, this is done without any blame, suggesting that they thrive within this environment.

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