Polytechnic-led research project investigates stress symptoms, compares pilots vs. other college students

From left to right: Gomez, Vhaduri and Keller.

A team of four Purdue researchers—three from Polytechnic departments, one of whom is also an undergraduate—have just unveiled new research on stress and fatigue among college students.

As the abstract of their work, “Assessing perceived stress, sleep disturbance, and fatigue among pilot and non-pilot trainees” specifies:

“Our findings indicate intriguing disparities among pilot and non-pilot [student] cohorts. Through graphical representations and statistical tests, we reveal that non-pilot college students exhibit higher perceived stress and sleep disturbance levels. In contrast, pilots demonstrate expected higher perceived fatigue levels.”

The first two authors of the paper are Samuel Andres Gomez and Sudip Vhaduri—an undergraduate in the Department of Computer and Information Technology’s (CIT) data analytics, technologies and applications major, and a CIT assistant professor respectively. They are joined by Julius Keller, an assistant professor in Purdue Polytechnic’s School of Aviation and Transportation Technology, and Mark Wilson from Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

This research, while reaching across the boundaries not only of two different Polytechnic departments but of two Purdue colleges, makes it clear that not all stress indicators can be treated identically. “Stress,” “sleep disturbance” and “fatigue” are treated as three separate categories, as the research makes it clear that the presence of one doesn’t necessarily indicate that the other two will be present in an individual student.

For instance: “Our detailed analysis of subcategories, including General Fatigue, Physical Fatigue, Reduced Activity, Reduced Motivation, and Mental Fatigue, sheds light on the complexity of these differences. Notably, pilot students experience heightened fatigue, potentially linked to the demanding nature of their tasks.”

This study will be published in Volume 32 of the "Smart Health" research journal, due out in June 2024.

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