Teaching practice is essential for students who want to be a teacher, and many students feel stress during the practice period, but precise effects of the persistent stress on mental and physiological state are not completely understood. To clarify the influence of persistent psychosocial stress, Cornell medical index (CMI) score, state-trait anxiety inventory (STAI) score, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were measured during the teaching practice period and control period, in female college students who were having 4 weeks of teaching practice. Autonomic and mood responses to physical (orthostatic challenge) and psychological (Stroop color–word conflict test) stimuli were also evaluated during both periods, using a profile of mood states and a visual analogue scale (VAS) for mood estimation, and a spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) for autonomic nervous activity estimation. Subjective symptoms assessed by CMI, state and trait anxiety, and diastolic blood pressure were significantly higher during the practice period, and the effect size of trait anxiety difference was the largest. Repeated measures analysis of variance revealed significant interaction in T-A, D, F, C score in POMS, that is, pre-stimulus basal level of these negative mood scales were higher and reduced more after the acute stimulus during the practice period compared to those during the control period. There was some tendency that unstable recovery in HF amplitude of HRV after the psychological stimulus during the practice period, compared to abrupt and stable recovery during the control period, though the statistical value did not reach significant level. These results suggest that persistent psychosocial stress in the real world would make person more anxious and complain more subjective symptoms, along with higher basal diastolic blood pressure and some what unstable autonomic recovery after acute psychological stimulus during the practice period. Periodical survey of anxiety, especially trait anxiety, and precise diastolic BP monitoring on a regular basis can become useful tools to detect persistently stressed state.
Keywords: Persistent psychosocial stress, teaching practice, heart rate variability, profile of mood states, state-trait anxiety inventory