Current Content
Volume 33, Number 5
September/October 2007

Stress and Coping Responses to Proficiency Testing
In School-Age Children
Theresa Skybo and Jacalyn Buck

Nurses encounter school-age children experiencing multiple stressors and stress symptoms. Performance on proficiency tests is viewed as stressor. The purpose of this repeated measures study was to assess 53 fourth grade children’s appraisal of proficiency tests, concurrent stressors, stress symptoms, and coping strategies. During October, February, March, and April, children completed a ranking of their stress associated with proficiency testing and also reported their stressors, stress symptoms, and coping strategies. Results indicated that children appraised proficiency tests as most stressful at the beginning of the school year but less stressful at the time of the test. Stressors and stress symptoms increased from baseline to 1 month before testing then declined. The number of coping strategies used by the children decreased throughout the year. Nurses can work with parents and teachers to identify children with test anxiety and target these children for interventions to improve their coping strategies.