“Power through your Doctoral Studies” Intervention Study

2022 the “Power through your doctoral studies” stress management seminar was accompanied by a randomized intervention study to evaluate its long-term effect on doctoral students. Previous studies have yet to evaluate the long-term impact of stress management programs and their specific suitability for doctoral students.

We are planning to establish the doctoral students’ stress management program as a long-term service and incorporate the findings of the study into the further development of the stress management seminar on a needs-driven basis. As such, the study makes an important contribution to the further development and implementation of targeted programs of support for doctoral students within the framework of the University of Bonn health management.

    Study and Seminar

Registration for the study and the associated seminar is no longer possible. The intervention period of the study has ended. We are currently in the final data collection stage and will then begin data evaluation & analysis.

Target Group

Doctoral students studying at the University of Bonn

Project Management

Charlotte Henschen
Dr. Manuela Preuß


German & English


Janice Williamson
(Dipl. Psychologist & Systemic Coach)

Seminar Contents

  • Stress during the doctoral dissertation project
  • Protecting yourself from stress
  • The right attitude is key
    Successful stress management
  • My path through the doctorate


€50 following completion of the study


This intervention study seeks to for the first time evaluate the long-term impact of the “Power through your doctoral studies” stress management program.

Doctoral students are an important stakeholder group in the university context. In view of their position in the knowledge society, they could be key decision-makers and function as significant multipliers for health-oriented measures (Allgöwer, 2002).

The course of doctoral research is associated with a range of challenges and crises. In addition to the classic stress factors of the working world, such as deadlines and pressure to perform, multitasking and a lack of opportunities to relax (BAuA, 2012), doctoral researchers are confronted with additional stress factors such as the challenging intersection of roles both within and between professional and private life, such as the need to combine doctoral studies with work and/or family responsibilities and financial insecurity.

Through its target group-specific approach, this preventive stress management program seeks to provide its participants with orientation during their doctoral studies, enabling them to develop a healthy and productive response to the range of stress factors with which they are confronted. The intervention approaches taken by previous stress management programs have not accorded sufficient attention to their long-term impact and transferability into the everyday life of specific target groups such as doctoral researchers (Kaluza & Chevalier, 2018).

This study examines the long-term effectiveness of the stress management program tailored to the needs of doctoral students, in order to evaluate, adapt, develop and optimize it in a needs-driven fashion, in accordance with the needs of the target group, and to facilitate its long-term establishment at the University of Bonn. We are also planning to publish our findings in international journals.

Deploying psychological questionnaires following an established methodology, the program records the subjective stress load of its participants in order to assess its impact. These findings are supplemented by a stress level analysis measuring heart rate variability in order to pinpoint the objective stress load of the participants.

Design of the Study

© Hannah Shepherd
  • Registration for the seminar and the study
  • Randomization + information about belonging to the intervention or control group
  • Dates for testing

The intervention group participates in the seminar and all three tests/measurements. The seminar starts after the pre-test. The control groups take part in all three tests/measurements and also attended the seminar after the end of the study (after the follow-up).

  • The pre-test is performed in the two weeks before the start of the seminar

  • The post-test is performed in the two weeks after the end of the seminar

  • The follow-up is performed ca. 3 months after the end of the seminar

The measurements consist of answering several questionnaires completed from home (duration ca. 45 min) and a ca. 30-minute on-site stress level analysis.

All participants receive €50 after completion of the follow-up measurement.

Important Information about the Study & FAQ

The study was open to all doctoral students enrolled at the University of Bonn. The nature of their employment relationship with the University was not important.

The following persons may not participate:

  • Those suffering from a psychological illness (e.g. clinical depression)
  • Those with a diagnosed heart rhythm disorder
  • Those who have participated in a stress management program within the last year prior to the start of the study.

All participants were provided detailed information within the scope of a personal interview pertaining to the aims, implementation and possible risks of the study. Each participant was required to provide their written consent to participation in the study.

  • Data stored in strictly anonymized form

  • Participants’ personal data will not be passed on

  • All project staff subject to confidentiality obligations

The data will be stored and analyzed in accordance with the provisions of the German Data Protection Act.

Participation in this study was voluntary. Participation was be able to be ended at any point without the need to state grounds.

Allgöwer, A. (2002). Gesundheitsförderung an der Universität. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-663-10170-3

BAuA. (2012). Stressreport Deutschland 2012: Psychische Anforderungen, Ressourcen und Befinden (Stressreport Deutschland). Dortmund. Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin.

Kaluza, G. & Chevalier, A. (2018). Stressbewältigungstrainings für Erwachsene. In R. Fuchs & M. Geber (Hrsg.), Handbuch Stressregulation und Sport (S. 143–162). Springer.


Do you know what your stressors are? How can I manage and protect myself from stress? These and other issues are addressed in the stress management seminar.

The preventive stress management program “Power through your doctoral studies” is tailored to your specific needs as a doctoral student and is designed to help you deal with potential stress factors in a healthy and productive manner.

The five seminar blocks focus on teaching a broad repertoire of stress management strategies (e.g. mental stress management and optimizing time and learning management) and on encouraging participants to reflect on and share experiences. The seminar also provides an insight into various relaxation techniques and breathing and physical exercises. The sessions are conceived as four-hour training units (incl. pauses).

The seminar seeks to provide guidance during your doctoral studies and enable you to integrate the behaviors learned in the course into your everyday life.

The intervention period of the study has ended. We are currently in the final data collection stage and will then begin data evaluation & analysis.

Your Contact Person

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Hannah Shepherd

Healthy Study Coordinator
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