Date of Completion

Fall 12-11-2019

Project Type



Master of Science in Nursing - Educational Leadership



Committee Chair

Dr. Doreen Wagner

Committee Member

Dr. Jane Brannan


Purpose:The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI), coping mechanisms and perceived stress in undergraduate nursing students.

Design:A quantitative non-experimental descriptive design was followed.

Method:The data was collected through a convenience sample. The sample was collected during an undergraduate nursing class where the students in the classroom were asked to participate in the study. The students that chose to participate took a survey that included data collection on demographics, EI scores, perceived stress and coping mechanisms. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) (Cohen et al., 1983), the Brief COPE (Carver, 1997), and the Schutte Self-Report Emotional Intelligence Test (SSEIT) (Schutte et al., 1998) were used to collect the key data.

Data Analysis:The IBM SPSS software was used to statistically analyze the provided data. Descriptive statistics such as percentages, frequencies and means of the data were used to describe the demographics of the sample. Statistical tests such as the Pearson’s correlational test, independent t-test and Chi-squared test for significance were utilized to analyze the data for statistically significant relationships.

Results:The SSEIT, PSS and Brief COPE were the tools utilized for data collection. All of these instruments had internal reliability as shown by their Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficient. Statistically significant relationships were found between EI and perceived stress (r=-0.419), EI and coping mechanisms (p= 0.001), as well as perceived stress and coping mechanisms (p<0.001). Overall, a sample of 147 students was used to determine these relationships. Demographics were also collected, but no statistically significant relationship was found in the demographic data as related to EI, perceived stress or coping mechanisms.

Discussion: The findings show that there is a negative relationship between emotional intelligence and perceived stress. This result found that as emotional intelligence increases, perceived stress in the undergraduate nursing student decreases. The relationship between emotional intelligence and coping mechanisms also existed, showing that students with higher emotional intelligence (x̄=131.05) tend to utilize adaptive coping mechanisms while those with lower emotional intelligence (x̄=116.7) utilize maladaptive coping mechanism. PSS and coping mechanism also had a statistically significant relationship showing that students who had lower perceived stress scores (x̄=19.35) typically utilized adaptive coping, while maladaptive coping was used in students who had higher perceived stress (x̄= 27.143). More research needs to be done to establish if these relationships are significant in the population and can be generalize to other nursing programs.