Promoting student wellbeing, resilience and retention

Promoting student well-being

This research study is a summary of the full report 'Promoting regional student nurse wellbeing, resilience, and retention through an emotional intelligence intervention' prepared in February, 2018 by:


The Southern Cross University Coffs Harbour campus draws students from a region that has a high representation of socio-economically disadvantaged populations. Many students undertaking nursing are the first in their families to be entering university, are needing to also work to support families, and are at high risk of drop out due to these factors. This situation is further compounded by high levels of clinical placement for students in the Bachelor of Nursing program, which occur in addition to a full academic workload, creating additional financial, personal and social burdens for these students.

The approach

This was a comparative cohort pilot study. The active intervention consisted of a 4 hour EI program using the Genos Model of EI and follow up data collection 6 weeks post-training.

All students in the years 1-2 nursing cohort at Coffs Harbour were offered the opportunity to participate in the EI intervention, and an equal number of students at the Gold Coast campus were invited to participate as a comparison group.

Before commencement of the program (T1), all students enrolled into the intervention were requested to complete baseline questionnaires measuring their EI (Genos EI Workplace Behaviour Self Report), well-being (the World Health Organisation WHO-5 Well-being Index), and resilience (Connors-Davidson Resilience Scale 25). Six weeks later, students were asked to complete the same measure for a second time (T2).

The results

Scores on the above measures 6 weeks post-training were compared to baseline scores. The key findings included:


1. Significant increase in EI

The intervention group’s scores on the overall GENOS EI measure were significantly higher 6 weeks post-training (M = 4.02, SD = 0.53) than at baseline (M = 3.63, SD = 0.38).

Thus, this single session of EI training for undergraduate nursing students at SCU Coffs Harbour produced a large increase in EI as measured 6 weeks post-training. As can be seen in figure 1, there were no significant changes in the control group.

EI Score
Figure 1. Scores on the GENOS EI measure for trained and untrained (control) participants at time 1 (baseline) and approximately 6 weeks post-training.

2. Significant increase in psychological well-being

As can be seen in Figure 2, scores on the WHO-5 measure of psychological well-being also increased post-training. T2 scores (M = 65.68, SD = 18.59) were significantly higher than at baseline (M = 52.42, SD = 20.35), t(13) = - 3.23, p = .005 (2-tailed). The effect size was large, d = .74 (corrected for dependence between means). There was also an increase in the control group’s scores on wellbeing (T1: M = 58.00, SD = 23.49; T2: M = 66.40, SD = 18.97), but this was non-significant.

WHO Score
Figure 2. Scores on the WHO-5 wellbeing measure for trained and untrained (control) participants at time 1 (baseline) and approximately 6 weeks post-training.
Pre-post increases on well-being were strongly correlated with those on the EI measure (r=.58; p<.01). This means that those students who experienced larger increases on EI tended to also make larger gains on well-being. This is clear evidence linking well-being to EI, not only in a static sense, but that improvements in well-being are significantly related to the improvements in EI resulting from actively educating these students in EI skills.

Participant feedback

“The emotional intelligence training, it teaches you why you think the way you think, why you feel the way you feel and why you do what you do and how it influences everything around you in both your personal life and your professional life and even your student life, and how different aspects of your values, your personality, your thoughts, your attitudes; how they influence your day to day being.”

“[The training] was highly rewarding and beneficial ... to learn about self and change for the better ... to grow into someone you didn’t know you could be...”

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