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Students are increasingly suffering from serious stress and burnout issues, which results in reduced study performance and delays. Stress within the UT student population’s daily life is measured and monitored in this project. Suitable interventions for reducing stress and increasing well-being must be offered at the right times, which can be done through the use of an Experience Sampling smartphone application. Last year, we developed this application together with the IGS research institute. Students can easily download this application on their telephone. At regular intervals in their daily lives (e.g. once or multiple times per day), students will answer a short survey by means of the app. It will also be possible to look into the determiners and effects of stress on daily performance (including academic performance) and activities. The App Lab that is currently being developed by the Center for eHealth & Wellbeing Research will allow us to properly intervene at the right time in case a student suffers from severe stress and limitations in their daily lives. We aim to offer these interventions in such a way that they can be integrated into everyday life (e.g. by means of very short, playful and flexible exercises directly applicable to everyday life) through a smartphone or online. Furthermore, they are based on our department’s research (e.g. ‘Dit is Jouw Leven’, ‘Voluit Leven’).

The academic challenges and the project’s innovative nature are due to the fact that this project is one of the few studies that intensively researches stress, its determiners and consequences within everyday life by using technology. Moreover, current online and smartphone interventions are often offered as one-size-fits-all interventions, without taking into account individual traits and preferences.

The project will focus on the following:

  • What is the prevalence of stress among the UT student population?
  • What are the concrete determiners and consequences of, and protective factors against, stress in everyday life?
  • Can short-term, flexible smartphone and online interventions be effective in reducing stress and increasing well-being and resilience in UT students?
  • How should and how can personalization of interventions and a focus on the individual be implemented for online and smartphone interventions?

The Student Union and UT’s primary psychologists have already indicated that they would like to work together on a similar proposal. We expect that they will gladly offer to collaborate on this project as well. Recent interventions of the Center for eHealth & Wellbeing Research have all been scientifically assessed and turned out to be effective. Since a major part of the work is the result of collaboration with technical partners within (HMI, IDE, EEMCS – BSS) and outside (Roessingh Research & Development, mental healthcare institutions such as Dimence, Mediant, Tactus Verslavingszorg) UT, these parties will also be involved in the project if necessary and possible.

The intended runtime for the project will be 18 to 24 months, which will allow us to develop and provide suitable and personalized interventions on a stage-by-stage basis by means of experience sampling studies for measuring, monitoring and gaining insight into stress.