Anxiety in Graduate Students from Argentina and USA

Sample recollection electronic by internet and paper and pencil


Doctoral Thesis

PhD Candidate: Lic. Lidia B. Menijes de Libertun

Thesis Director:

Argentina: Dra. Maria C. Richaud de Minzi.

USA:   Robert Roberts,  Ph.D.


Anxiety as pathology expression is present in all contemporaries societies regardless of their cultural differences. Up to 25% of all people are affected by it at some moment of their lifetime, making anxiety pathology one of the most prevalent pathologies within the psychopathological realm. The expression of anxiety is affected by cultural contexts and usually coexists with depression. This research presents a comparison of the anxiety levels on Argentinean and United States college students.


a-  Compare the degree and type of anxiety, and its most common comorbidity depression, among Spanish and English college students.

b- Correlate these differences to gender, age, or study-discipline.

c- Evaluate whether the procedures to collect the information in person and website questionnaire impacts on the results.


a-This thesis collected the following data from interviewed individuals: age, country of birth, country of the university were is studying, language, gender, and study discipline.  In addition, four tools were used, both in its original language, English and in its Spanish translation. Three of these questionnaires assess type and level of anxiety: SIAS, Social Interaction Anxiety Scale, measures social phobia; BAI, Beck Anxiety Inventory, measures anxiety level; APPQ, Albany Panic and Phobia Questionnaire, measures panic attack The fourth, Beck Depression Inventory II, evaluates depression levels.

b-Sample description and inclusion criteria.

The research was performed on a sample of 405 graduate students subdivided in three groups according to the way the information was collected and the language of the answers. Data was collected through: a- paper questionnaires, b- electronic questionnaires posted on internet. Data about language, country of birth, and country of study were used to define the criteria for including individuals in the sample.

Sample I, was collected by Internet in English. All members of this sample comply with the following characteristics: are college students, are born in the USA, and are studying in USA when they answered the questionnaire.

Sample II, was collected by Internet in Spanish. All members of this sample comply with the following characteristics: are college students, are born in the Argentina, and are studying in Argentina when they answered the questionnaire.

Sample III, was collected in paper in Spanish.  All members of this sample comply with the following characteristics: are college students, are born in the Argentina, and are studying in Argentina when they answered the questionnaire.

Participation in this research, in all its formats, has been voluntary and with express agreement of participants.

In all the three groups, gender was balanced: 54.8 % female, and 45.2% male.


A- Language of the Sample.

Significant statistical differences were found in relation to the language variable. Students who answered in English showed higher levels of anxiety, panic attack, social phobia and depression than those who did it in Spanish.

B- Comorbidity.

In this research we observe a covariation between the BAI questionnaires designed to measures the severity of anxiety in adult and adolescents and the BDI II. designed to measures the severity of depression in adult and adolescents.

C- Gender Incidence.

In our sample, in both means of collecting information, there are significant differences on panic attack, females register higher levels. In both means of collecting there was not found differences in social phobia correlated to gender.

 In the Spanish collection females also register higher levels of anxiety and depression.

 In our electronic sample, there was not found significant differences in anxiety level and depression level.

D- Collection mean.

According to our results, the collection-mean , in person or via internet,do not affect the tests-results. Two difference were detected that can be correlated to web collection,  social phobia age and no gender differences in anxiety level and depression level.

E- Age Incidence.

In the internet collection of data in social phobia, older respondents show higher levels of it. Statistically significant differences correlated to age are only present in the electronic recollection. Otherwise, results agree with those described on mainstream scientific publications.

F- Discipline of study incidence.

In the electronic collection some groups were correlated to different levels of pathology Students of exact sciences and agriculture showed higher levels of anxiety (significant at 5% level). In the Spanish responses, health-science students presented higher levels of anxiety (statistically significant).


A- Language of the Sample.

The Spanish sample showed lower levels of anxiety and depression. One of the explanatory hypotheses for this outcome, in agreement with the bibliography, correlates these results to the solid and less transient familiar and social links that Latin populations tend to have, which might protect individuals from depression and anxiety. Conversely, the English sample, belonging to an Anglo-Saxon population might have an increasing weakening of their social-ties, and would be more exposed to anxiety due to individuals isolation.

B- Comorbidity.

Findings agree with numerous studies, where there is a comorbidity between anxiety and depression, with a percentage falling between 40 and 90, and being the most common form of comorbidity

C- Gender Incidence.

The differences among females and males in the paper sample are coincident with an extensive body of research, where anxiety and depression are more common in females than in males. In the electronic recollection there neither was found such difference related to gender in anxiety level and depression. In the case of depression one of the explanatory hypotheses for this outcome, in agreement with NIMH concern about male trying to denied their fillings, among the men who expressed a negative attitude toward help-seeking and had high levels of gender-role conflict, feelings that men should behave differently than women. Web answer aloud  them to feel more free to express their filings.

 In the case of anxiety level, one of the explanatory hypotheses for this outcome in agreement with research published about computer anxiety, men tent to become more anxious than female when trying to processing large amount of information via internet Female college students showed more positive attitudes than male students.

D- Collection mean

The use of electronic media to collect data is still a novelty in scientific research, both in Argentina and abroad. It is worth noticing that results collected via internet mostly  agree from those collected in paper in person, which would be in line with a growing literature on the field showing that the utility of electronic collection methods. Therefore, we suggest the use of this medium in some types of mental health research.

E- Age Incidence.

In the web-sample the older individuals presents higher levels of social phobia. This is a highly noticeable result, as this illness it is known to decrease with age. This particularity might be attributed to the voluntary selection of web-respondents. It is likely that people with social phobia would prefer to use this medium, so as to avoid direct personal interaction.

F- Discipline of study incidence

In accord with the literature, health students of the Spanish sample shown the highest levels of anxiety. It should be noticed that this population has been most widely studied, while we lack data on other disciplines.

Benefits and transmission of results.

By bringing attention to the cultural baggage of the individual, which is somehow the language of his illness and how it is presented, the findings of this research could help the clinical practice. Any advance towards improving the comprehension of the patient will improve the response of the health providers.

Another contribution is the translation and adaptation of the questionnaires used in the present research, which enriches the number of questionnaires available to local practitioners.

The use of web devices provides an economic and effective research tool, a great help for transcultural and comparative studies in countries with stringent research budgets.

 Also bringing attention to college authorities about anxiety and depress risk present in their student population and the consequent effect in knowledge acquisition process