Exploring the case of mental health mutualism: Do resilience factor levels and mental health problems change mutualistically, from before to during and after exam stress exposure?
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Description: The preregistration can be found at: https://osf.io/cetrs In RESIST (Resilience Study: What helps students to adapt to exam stress) we assessed 451 Cambridge University medical students before, during and after their yearly exam period (see Figure 1 in the attached preregistration PDF; 57% female, 41% male, 58% white). Based on our proof of principle analyses, which are reported in Fritz, Stochl, Kievit, van Harmelen and Wilkinson (2020), we found that perceived stress and mental distress were lower before than during the exams, but higher before than after the exams. A complete study description and the underlying scientific rationale can also be found in Fritz, Stochl, Kievit, et al. (2020). Here we preregister three research aims and the belonging analysis strategies. We aim to examine: 1) whether resilience factors change from the time before the stress exposure to the times during and after the stress exposure, 2) whether resilience factors change mutualistically with mental distress levels, and 3) whether resilience factors that reduce (increase in) mental distress during the stress exposure, also support recovery of mental distress after the stress exposure. We will specifically focus on two resilience factors, low brooding and high self-esteem, which have both strong empirical support for their promotive effects on mental health in the general population (Fritz et al., 2019; Fritz, Stochl, Goodyer, et al., 2020; Millar & Donnelly, 2013; Watkins, 2015), as well as in individuals exposed to stress and adversity (Boyes, Hasking, & Martin, 2015; Dubow et al., 2012; Fritz, de Graaff, Caisley, van Harmelen, & Wilkinson, 2018; Fritz et al., 2019).