BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests that behavioral, social, and environmental factors may modify the effects of life stress on health and performance of new nurses as they transition to hospitals. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to describe the methods of a project designed to investigate the role of social, behavioral, and environmental factors in modifying the adverse effects of stress on new nurses and to discuss demographic, health, and life stress characteristics of the cohort at baseline. METHODS: A prospective cohort design was used to conduct a comprehensive assessment of health endpoints, life stress, behaviors, personal traits, social factors, indicators of engagement and performance, and environmental exposures in nursing students. Adjusted odds ratios and analyses of covariance were used to examine associations between these factors at baseline. RESULTS: Health indicators in the cohort were comparable or better than in the broader United States population, and lifetime stress exposure was lower than among students from other majors. Exposure to more lifetime stressors was associated with greater risk for various health conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, and depression. Conversely, better social, environmental, behavioral, and personal profiles were associated with protective effects for the same health conditions. DISCUSSION: These data comprehensively summarize the lives of predominately Hispanic nursing students and highlight risk and resilience factors associated with their health and well-being. The findings are timely, as the nursing field diversifies in preparation to care for a diverse and aging population. Comprehensively assessing stress-health relationships among student nurses ought to inform the policies, practices, and curricula of nursing schools to better prepare nurses to thrive in the often-strenuous healthcare environment.
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