• To increase your understanding of cognitive distortions (negative thinking styles) and the link between these and stress and anxiety
• To be aware of the prevalence of cognitive distortions among nursing students
• To recognise that higher education institutions should prioritise nursing students’ mental health
Background: Evidence suggests that stress and anxiety are commonly experienced by nursing students. Cognitive distortions, or negative thinking styles, are linked to stress and anxiety and have been shown to have a detrimental effect on mental health. Therefore, identification of cognitive distortions among nursing students may serve to prevent the development of mental health issues among this population.
Aim: To explore the prevalence of cognitive distortions among a sample of nursing students, identify which types were more common and determine how these types varied by sociodemographic characteristics.
Method: A cross-sectional online questionnaire survey was conducted with undergraduate nursing students at a university in Palestine. All students enrolled d uring the 2020-21 academic year (n=305) were invited to participate, of whom 176 responded.
Results: Of the 176 students who responded, 9 (5%) had severe levels of cognitive distortion, 58 (33%) had moderate levels, 83 (47%) had mild levels and 26 (15%) had healthy levels. Of the nine types of cognitive distortions described in the questionnaire, respondents engaged most in emotional reasoning, followed by perfectionist thinking and ‘What if?’ questions. The cognitive distortions that respondents were least likely to engage in were polarised thinking and overgeneralising. Single, first-year and younger respondents had a significantly higher level of cognitive distortions.
Conclusion: The results emphasise the importance of identifying and managing cognitive distortions in nursing students, not only in the mental health clinics at the university where the study took place, but also in preventive well-being services. Universities should prioritise nursing students’ mental health.
Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2023.e2077Peer review
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated softwareCorrespondence
Alwawi A, Alsaqqa HH (2023) Protecting the mental health of the future workforce: exploring the prevalence of cognitive distortions among nursing students. Nursing Management. doi: 10.7748/nm.2023.e2077
Published online: 09 March 2023
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