Challenges in doctoral research and psychological distress of candidates
Barry, KM and Woods, M and Warnecke, E and Stirling, C and Martin, A, Challenges in doctoral research and psychological distress of candidates, 13th Quality in Postgraduate Research Conference: Impact, Engagement, and Doctoral Education, 17-19 April 2018, Adelaide, South Australia (2018) [Conference Extract]
Psychological distress is known to be prevalent in doctoral degree training. A recent study explored challenges related to candidature, self-reported progress and measures of perceived and actual psychological distress with a convenience sample of 81 doctoral candidates in an Australian university. Using validated survey instruments, participants reported higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress than age-matched general population normative data. Additionally, those who self-reported being behind or exceeding their study schedule had significantly higher scores for depression, anxiety and stress than those who reported they were meeting schedule. The most frequent challenge reported in doctoral study related to development of generic skills, followed by management of self, including motivation. Half of the participants were randomly allocated to an intervention consisting of a daily mindfulness practice for 8 weeks (supported by an audio resource) and half received no intervention. Findings indicate that students allocated to the intervention had a significantly greater decrease in depression, and significant increases in the psychological capital attributes of hope, resilience and self-efficacy.
wellbeing, mindfulness, psychological distress, study progress, PhD, doctoral