eCite Digital Repository

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.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:wellbeing, mindfulness, psychological distress, study progress, PhD, doctoral
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Barry, KM (Associate Professor Kara Barry)
UTAS Author:Woods, M (Dr Megan Woods)
UTAS Author:Warnecke, E (Dr Emma Warnecke)
UTAS Author:Stirling, C (Professor Christine Stirling)
UTAS Author:Martin, A (Professor Angela Martin)
ID Code:132182
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Agriculture and Food Systems
Deposited On:2019-04-26
Last Modified:2019-05-01

Repository Staff Only: item control page