Sleep Quality, Perceived Stress, and Doctor of Physical Therapy Students




Trimble, Ruth
Richardson, Mike
Papa, Evan
Santurri, Laura
Miller, Haylie
Halford, Nathan
Williams, Erin


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Purpose: To examine the relationship between sleep quality and perceived stress among Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students. Poor sleep quality in other health professional and undergraduate students has been linked to impaired academic performance as well as poorer mental and physical health. Since research on this topic is limited, new data should further understanding of the potential impact of sleep quality on DPT students and provide valuable information to DPT programs. Methods: Researchers conducted a non-experimental study using a single-site, cross-sectional design. A convenience sample of DPT students completed an online survey that measured perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale; PSS-10) and sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; PSQI). Results: One-hundred sixty-three DPT students (42 entering year one, 37 ending year one, 43 ending year two, 41 ending year three) participated. The mean PSS-10 score for each cohort was as follows: entering year one 13.45 (SD 4.98), ending year one 11.22 (SD 4.81), ending year two 16.02 (SD 6.62), ending year three 16.69 (SD 4.27), with an overall mean PSS-10 score of 14.47 (SD 5.65). Using the PSQI, researchers identified that 38.04% of students across all of the cohorts had poor sleep quality. There was a low, direct association between perceived stress and sleep quality. Conclusion: A better understanding of perceived stress and sleep quality while in physical therapy school may help identify students at risk for burnout and increase the window of opportunity for teaching DPT students effective stress management strategies.