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Research & Studies

Effects of Emotion Freedom Techniques on Academic Stress in Korean Medical Students: A Single-group Pre-post Study

Citation (APA style): Lee, S., Han, S. Y., Lee, S. J., Chae, H., & Lim, J. (2022). Effects of Emotion Freedom Techniques on academic stress in Korean medical students: A single-group pre-post study. Journal of Oriental Neuropsychiatry, 33(1), 33–48. doi:10.7231/jon.2022.33.1.033


Objectives: Academic stress poses a significant risk for the mental health of medical students, and a feasible group intervention program for managing academic stress is required. The purpose of this study was to examine the clinical effectiveness of Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on the mental health of Korean medical students.

Methods: The class of first-year medical school students (n=36) participated in an after-school EFT group intervention program comprising six sessions (15 minutes/session, three weeks) to analyze its clinical effectiveness as a single-group test-retest clinical study. The changes in the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI), Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS), and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) scores were examined using a paired t test and Cohen’s d at post-EFT and two-week follow-up.

Results: There were significant curtailments at post-EFT and follow-up measures in TAI-Total (t=2.704 and t=3.289), TAI-Worry (t=2.297 and t=2.454), TAI-Emotionality (t=2.763 and t=3.654), PSS-Negative Perspective (t=2.659 and t=3.877), and PANAS-Negative Affect (t=2.885 and t=3.259) subscales, however not in PSS-Positive Perspective (t=-1.279 and t=-1.101) and PANAS-Positive Affect (t=0.194 and t=-0.122) subscales. The trait anxiety (t=2.227) was significantly mitigated in the post-EFT measure and the state anxiety (t=2.30) in the follow-up measure.

Conclusions: The EFT group intervention alleviated test stress, negative affect, and anxiety in the Korean medical students. This study contributes to an understanding of academic stress and EFT intervention in the competitive environment of medical education.


Emotional Freedom Techniques, medical student, academic stress, test anxiety, mental health