© Borgis - New Medicine 1/2012, s. 10-14
*Helga Judit Feith1, Zsuzsanna Soósné Kiss2, Georgina Bárdos3, István Vingender4, Sándor Hollós5
Comparative study of future family plans and perceived stress factors among Hungarian students in higher education
1Associate professor, Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Department: István Vingender, Ph.D.
2Associate professor, Department of Health Sciences and Clinical Studies, Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Department: Sándor Hollós, Ph.D.
3Midwifery student, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Dean: Judit Mészáros, Ph.D.
4Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Department: István Vingender, Ph.D.
5Professor, Department of Health Sciences and Clinical Studies, Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
Head of Department: Sándor Hollós, Ph.D.
Aim. Nowadays in Hungarian society we face the problem of unfavourable demographic trends. We also face the conflicts of family and work-related roles of healthcare workers. The aims of our surveys were: (1) to acknowledge future plans related to having children of medical, nursing and health visitor students, in relation to stress factors in their lives, (2) to compare examined variables with the results of non health sciences students.
Material and methods. Full-time medical, nursing, health visitor students and police cadets were invited to our quantitative sociological researches. They participated in training programmes of higher education institutions in Budapest, 282 people gave valuable answers (total response rate: 71,3%).
Results. 93,0% of the students would like to have a child, there was no statistically significant difference between the answers of the students of different training programmes (p = 0.657). In respect of their own future prospects 44,8% of the female students were optimistic (p = 0.231%). The optimistic/pessimistic future prospects showed correlation with the proposed number of children (p < 0.001). The majority of indicated stress-factors were different in each type of student training programme. On the other hand the existing stress factors and the proposed number of children were unrelated.
Conclusions. Concerning students’ plans of having children we can establish that the students have definite concept about the issue of having children. The pessimistic future prospects negatively influence the plans of having children while the stress factors of the students’ current life do not have this effect.
According to international comparative researches Hungarian women express more conservative values regarding the role of women. Especially mothers attach a high value to family and are socially conservative in regard to family functioning (Pongrácz, T.-né, 2001).
In spite of this fact the Hungarian demographic trends indicate well-prognosticated social problems resulting from the low fertility rate. According to the report of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (HCSO) Hungarian population declined under 10 million in 2010 (on the basis of 2010’ interim information supplied of the HCSO). In 2010 the number of natural increase was -4,0. The unfavourably low fertility rate is related to the increasing number of relationships alternative to marriage and the high proportion of divorce incidences. In 2010 the number of marriages was 35.520 while the number of divorces was 23.820 (on the basis of 2010’ annual information supplied of the HCSO).
Research on the changing nature of women’s roles in family and work has been well documented in the past few decades (Nordenmark, 2004; Jansen, Kant, Kristensen & Nijhuis, 2003; Greenhaus, Collins & Shaw, 2003; Huang, Hammer, Neal & Perrin, 2004). The research emerged as a result a growing number of women in the labour market (Cotter, Hermsen & Vanneman, 2001), and because of the rapidly spreading model (Byron, 2005) of the dual wage-earning couple (Haddock, Zimmerman, Ziemba & Lyness, 2006). In the health care, the majority of studies on these topics examined the incompatibility of family and work-related roles, specifically the conflicts arising from this incompatibility (Swanson & Power, 1999; Gjerberg, 2003; Demir, Ulusoy & Ulusoy, 2003; Heiligers & Hingstman, 2000), and additionally psychic and somatic symptoms which may occur as a result (Stewart, Ahmad, Cheung, Bergman & Dell, 2000; Artazcoz, Borrell & Benach, 2001; McGrath, Reid & Boore, 2003; Firth-Cozens, 2003).
As far as we know there are few studies that have explored the future expectations of students studying in health colleges and at medical universities, and particularly the way that this fact of affects their family and career plans. Hungarian researches concerned the health behaviour, mental/physical health and socialization. According to the results the mental well being of the students is not optimal already during the higher education studies. (Csatlós, I.-né 2004, Sima, Pikó, Simon 2004)
Aims of the research
The aim of the presented study was to gain an objective evaluation of female full-time medical, nursing, health visitor students’ and cadets’ future family expectations and plans in the context of stress factors in their life.
There were two important reasons for choosing students of Police College in our surveys (1). Similarly to health workers, police officers are generally employed in the public sector, frequently in unsatisfactory working conditions (2). The other reason was to compare the family plans of the students who choose traditionally feminine professions (nurse, health visitor) with those of the students (cadets) who study a traditionally masculine profession. One of our main hypotheses was that the female students who study traditionally masculine profession are less family orientated.
Sufficient number of female cadets at Police College made it possible to invite them to participate in our research in spite of the fact that this profession is considered to be masculine.
Research method and sample
Full-time female medical, nursing, and health visitor students were invited to our quantitative, questionnaire-based sociological research. Our survey was carried out in Budapest, at the Semmelweis University. The response rate stated 68,08% (N = 201).
Students of the Police College in Budapest served as a control group. As it was a comparative survey we invited only female students in our research. 81 female cadets answered our questionnaire in the control group (response rate 77,0%). The total number of respondents was 282. Questionnaires were selected for analysis only if respondents answered at least 90% of all questions.
Questions included demographic characteristics of the respondents and items related to family and career plans, traditional female roles, present stress factors and future fears of students. Cronbach’s alpha internal reliability coefficient was applied to scales in the questionnaire. Alpha coefficients ranged between 0.70 and 0.83. We only took into consideration the variables, which could be related to the aims of our study.
Completed questionnaires were checked for the overall accuracy, which was followed by the coding of the answers to the open questions. Data from the questionnaires were entered into the SPSS Data Entry. In addition to distribution tests, the Pearson’s chi-squared test was applied to measure bivariate relationships between categorical variables (p < 0.05).
Characteristics of the Respondents
The students’ average age was 22.9 years, 68.2% of the respondents were 23 years old or younger, the majority lived in an urban area (79.0%). The age of cadets was statistically different from the age of the other students; the cadets were statistically significantly younger (p < 0.001). The majority came from a two-child family (average number of siblings: 1.28), there was no statistically significant difference between the student groups in this respect (p = 0.387). The majority (91.1%) was single, only 24.4% of them lived in a marriage or a common-law marriage. The female nursing students reported the lowest rate of the common-law marriage or marriage. Most of the BSc students were first-generation students, but the majority of female medical students (MSc students) had one or two college/university-educated parents (fathers who have college/university degree: 65.8%; mothers who have college/university degree: 60.3%). In this respect, a statistically significant difference between the student groups occured (p < 0.001).
The comparison of the plans to have children
Most of the respondents (80.8%) attached a high value to families, because they thought that having a child was an indispensable part of a full and happy life. The female medical students indicated the highest ratio (87.2%), the cadets indicated the lowest ratio (76.5%). In spite of the mentioned difference there was no statistically significant difference (p = 0.368). Nevertheless, almost half of the students (40.9%) were convinced that a single mother could live a full life without a husband. The number of students who agreed with this statement was the highest among cadets (49,4%) and the lowest among medical students (35.9%), but there was no statistically significant difference between the two variables (p = 0.261). Consequently, not having any children precludes living a full life more than being a single mother.
The overwhelming majority of childless students reported that they wanted to become mothers in the future (93.0%). In the total sample only 7 people (2.6%) were not planning to give birth to a child, and 12 people (4.4%) were not completely determined. There was no statistically significant difference (p = 0.657) between the answers of the students groups. 96.1% of the medical students, 92.5% of the health visitor students, 91.4% of the cadets and 91.7% of the nursing students were planning to have at least one child. Most of them were planning two (33.3%) or three children (33.0%). The average planned number of children was 2.4 children.
The health visitors were planning 3 or more children in the highest ratio (74.4%) and only 21.% of the cadets were planning the same. There was statistically significant difference (p < 0.001) between the answers of the students groups (fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Percentage distribution of students who plan or do not plan three or more children (N = 279).
The overwhelming majority of respondents were planning to give birth to the first baby before their 30th birthday (mean: 27.0), but there was a slight statistically significant difference between the answers of student groups (p = 0.079). The health visitor students were planning to give birth to the first child at a younger age than other students. The time of the first child’s birth and the planned number of children were related (p < 0.001).
Students’ future prospects, fears, perceived stress factors in connection with family plans
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