Factors impacting on psychological wellbeing of international students in the health professions: A scoping review

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Abstract

Background There are increasing numbers of international students undertaking health professional courses, particularly in Western countries. These courses not only expose students to the usual stresses and strains of academic learning, but also require students to undertake clinical placements and practice-based learning. While much is known about general issues facing international students, less is known about factors that impact on those studying in the health professions. Objectives To explore what is known about factors that influence the psychological wellbeing of international students in the health professions. Design A scoping review. Data sources A range of databases were searched, including CINAHL, Medline, Scopus, Proquest and ERIC, as well as grey literature, reference lists and Google Scholar. Review methods The review included qualitative or quantitative primary peer reviewed research studies that focused on international undergraduate or postgraduate students in the health professions. The core concept underpinning the review was psychological issues, with the outcome being psychological and/or social wellbeing. Thematic analysis across studies was used to identify key themes emerging. Results A total of 13 studies were included in the review, from the disciplines of nursing, medicine and speech-language pathology. Four key factor groups emerged from the review: negotiating structures and systems, communication and learning, quality of life and self-care, and facing discrimination and social isolation. Conclusions International health professional students face similar issues to other international students. The nature of their courses, however, also requires negotiating different health care systems, and managing a range of clinical practice issues including with communication, and isolation and discrimination from clinical staff and patients. Further research is needed to specifically explore factors impacting on student well-being and how international students can be appropriately prepared and supported for their encounters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Volume74
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Health profession
  • International student
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Scoping review

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