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Measuring Heart Rate Variability, Stress, and Psychological Symptoms using Biofeedback, CCAPS, and DASS

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Emily Hepworth

As levels of distress increase around the world due to a variety of global issues, college students are no exception to the resulting mental health crisis. This has especially been the case since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Recent studies show that levels of depression, anxiety, and psychopathology are currently rising among college students (Buizza & Ghilardi, 2022). With these increasing levels of mental health issues, new measures have arisen to evaluate the specific stressors of college students. This study combines the use of many of these measures to more comprehensively evaluate stressors and mental health symptoms in college students. This includes the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS), which measures stress and arousal in a summative and dimensional model (Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995), as well as the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS-34), which is designed specifically to measure psychological symptoms and distress in college students (Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 2015). To further measure the effects of stress, we measured heart rate variability (HRV) to capture the somatic response to stressors. HRV captures the body's physical response to stress, as well as being a predictor for anxiety disorders (de la Torre-Luque et al., 2017). We anticipated those with greater psychological distress and symptoms, as captured by the DASS and CCAPS, will also show a significant reduction in HRV as a response to the stressors in the experiment. We administered the CCAPS and DASS as well as tracked HRV via biofeedback to best measure self-reported and somatic manifestations of stress and anxiety. In addition, we used the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) to induce a controlled stressor within the experiment to establish the relationship between stress and HRV. We anticipate lower HRV for those participants whose CCAPS and DASS scores indicate significant mental health symptoms.
University / Institution: Brigham Young University
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #C48
SESSION C (1:45-3:15PM)
Area of Research: Social Sciences
Faculty Mentor: Patrick Steffen