Analysis of Psychophysiological Stress Response in Higher Education Students Undergoing Clinical Practice Evaluation

  • Ana Isabel Beltrán-Velasco
  • Pablo Ruisoto-Palomera
  • Alberto Bellido-Esteban
  • Monica García-Mateos
  • Vicente Javier Clemente-SuárezEmail author
Education & Training
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Technological Innovations in Biomedical Training and Practice (TEEM 2018)


The aim of this study was to analyze the psychophysiological response of Physiotherapy degree students during a complete clinical practice as well as their psychological profile in relation to coping style in stressful situations, and its impact on academic performance. We analysed in 15 students heart rate variability (HRV) to analyse autonomic modulation in three moments during the entire clinical practices of 3 months (4 h per day, 3 days per week), first session, middle session and last session; perceived stress, personality, life engagement, cognitive flexibility before starting the clinical practice the academic performance after the clinical practice. Results based on HRV and related indexes parameters fail to indicate the expected autonomic adaptation during the practice. A complete clinical practice of Physiotherapy degree students did not produce an habituation process since a high sympathetic autonomic nervous system modulation was measured in the beginning, at the middle and at the final of the clinical practice. Below-average scores are presented in a personality factor associated with traditional and non-adaptive coping styles that could explain the non-habituation of the students. Finally, none of the analyzed indexes has been able to relate to academic performance.


Autonomic modulation Stress HRV Personality Psychology 



The present research was developed with the David Wilson Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Research 2017, Project Number XOTRIO1712.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest


Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Psychophysiological Research GroupEuropean University of MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Basic Psychology, Psychobiology and Methodology of Behavioural SciencesUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyEuropean University of MadridMadridSpain
  4. 4.Faculty of Sport ScienceUniversidad Europea de MadridMadridSpain
  5. 5.Grupo de Investigación en Cultura, Educación y SociedadUniversidad de la CostaBarranquillaColombia

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