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1.  Cross-sectional study on the relationship between life events and mental health of secondary school students in Shanghai, China 
Shanghai Archives of Psychiatry  2012;24(3):162-171.
The relationship of demographic factors and negative life events to the mental health of mainland Chinese school students has not been fully explored.
Assess the prevalence of different types of life stressors among secondary school students and identify the demographic characteristics and types of life events that are most closely associated with perceived psychological difficulties in these students.
This cross-sectional study administered two self-completion questionnaires to a stratified random cluster sample of 1818 students from four secondary schools in two districts of Shanghai: the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and an abbreviated version of the Adolescent Self-rating Life Events Checklist (ASLEC) that assesses 11 negative life events.
Academic stress (74%), criticism from others (66%), family conflict (29%) and peer bullying & discrimination or interpersonal conflict (26%) were the most frequently reported negative life events, but their prevalence varied significantly by gender, type of school and urban versus rural residence. Similarly the level of reported psychological stress associated with life events, the total perceived psychological difficulty, and the level of pro-social behavior in the students varied significantly between different groups of students. Multivariate linear regression analysis identified the following independent predictors of high perceived psychological difficulty in the prior 6 months (in order of importance): high total stress score from negative life events in the prior year, experiencing peer bullying & discrimination or interpersonal conflict, not experiencing the death of a family member, male gender, attending a school in a rural district, and not suffering from a major disease or physical impairment. The independent predictors of a high level of pro-social behavior were high total stress score from negative life events, attending an urban school, female gender, attending a regular-tier school (vs. a high-tier school), experiencing peer bullying & discrimination or interpersonal conflict, not experiencing the death of a family member, and attending a middle school (vs. a high school).
Negative life events are one of many factors associated with perceived stress and level of pro-social behavior in secondary school students. Prospective studies are needed to clarify the causal pathways that connect stress with negative life events in students and to develop and test cohort-specific interventions aimed at decreasing stress and increasing pro-social behaviors.
PMCID: PMC4198848  PMID: 25324621
2.  Age, stress, and isolation in older adults living with HIV 
AIDS care  2013;26(5):523-531.
People living with HIV (PLWH) have increasingly longer life spans. This age group faces different challenges than younger PLWH, which may include increased stress and social isolation. The purpose of this study was to determine if the age and sex of PLWH is associated with measures of physiologic stress, perceived stress and social isolation. In this cross-sectional study, we enrolled 102 PLWH equally into four groups divided by age (< or > 50 years) and gender. Participants completed well-validated survey measurements of stress and isolation, and their heart rate variability over 60 minutes was measured by Holter monitor. The mean (standard deviation) Perceived Stress Scale score was 17.4 (6.94), mean visual analog stress scale score was 3.51 (2.79), and mean Hawthorne Friendship Scale score, a measure of social isolation, was 17.03 (4.84). Mean heart rate variability expressed as the standard deviation of successive N-N intervals was 65.47 (31.16) msec. In multivariable regression models that controlled for selected demographic variables, there was no relationship between the Perceived Stress Scale and age (coefficient=−0.09, p=−.23) or female gender (coefficient=−0.12, p=0.93); however, there was a modest relationship between female gender and stress using the visual analog stress scale (coefficient=1.24, p=0.05). Perceived Stress was negatively associated with the Hawthorne Friendship score (coefficient=−0.34, p=0.05). Hawthorne Friendship score was positively associated with younger age (coefficient=0.11, p=0.02). Age was the only independent predictor of physiologic stress as measured by heart rate variability (coefficient=−1.3, p<0.01). Our findings suggest that younger PLWH may experience more social isolation; however, age-related changes in heart rate variability do not appear to be related to perceived stress or social isolation. Future longitudinal research is required to more thoroughly understand this relationship and its impact on the health of PLWH.
PMCID: PMC3945181  PMID: 24116852
HIV; Psychological Stress; Aging; Social Isolation; Social Stigma
3.  Factors associated with posttraumatic stress disorder and depression in war-survivors displaced in Croatia 
Croatian Medical Journal  2011;52(6):709-717.
To examine the role of perceived stressfulness of trauma exposure and economic, social, occupational, educational, and familial adaptation after trauma in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in displaced war survivors.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted between March 2000 and July 2002 with a sample of 173 internally displaced persons or refugees and 167 matched controls in Croatia. Clinical measures included Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale.
Displaced war survivors reported the exposure to a mean ± standard deviation of 13.1 ± 8.3 war stressors, including combat, torture, serious injury, death of close persons, and loss of property. Compared to controls, they reported higher rates of marked to severe impact of war on family (16.2% vs 51.6%), social (7.2% vs 43.5%), economic (12.6% vs 55.4%), occupational (1.8% vs 15.9%), and educational (2.4% vs 8.8%) adaptation. In two logistic regression analyses, the strongest predictor of PTSD and depression was high level of perceived distress during trauma exposure. PTSD but not depression was associated with economic, social, occupational, educational, and familial adaptation after trauma.
Displaced survivors who experienced multiple war events perceived greater negative impact of war on their life domains compared to individuals who lived in a war setting but had no trauma exposure. The most important determinant of psychological outcomes was perceived stressfulness of war stressors. Although post-trauma adaptation in different life spheres had an impact, its effect was not robust and consistent across disorders. These findings suggest that it would be effective to use a trauma-focused approach in rehabilitation of war survivors.
PMCID: PMC3243315  PMID: 22180270
4.  Exploration of transitional life events in individuals with Friedreich ataxia: Implications for genetic counseling 
Human development is a process of change, adaptation and growth. Throughout this process, transitional events mark important points in time when one's life course is significantly altered. This study captures transitional life events brought about or altered by Friedreich ataxia, a progressive chronic illness leading to disability, and the impact of these events on an affected individual's life course.
Forty-two adults with Friedreich ataxia (18-65y) were interviewed regarding their perceptions of transitional life events. Data from the interviews were coded and analyzed thematically using an iterative process.
Identified transitions were either a direct outcome of Friedreich ataxia, or a developmental event altered by having the condition. Specifically, an awareness of symptoms, fear of falling and changes in mobility status were the most salient themes from the experience of living with Friedreich ataxia. Developmental events primarily influenced by the condition were one's relationships and life's work.
Friedreich ataxia increased the complexity and magnitude of transitional events for study participants. Transitional events commonly represented significant loss and presented challenges to self-esteem and identity. Findings from this study help alert professionals of potentially challenging times in patients' lives, which are influenced by chronic illness or disability. Implications for developmental counseling approaches are suggested for genetic counseling.
Human development can be described in terms of key transitional events, or significant times of change. Transitional events initiate shifts in the meaning or direction of life and require the individual to develop skills or utilize coping strategies to adapt to a novel situation [1,2]. A successful transition has been defined as the development of a sense of mastery over the changed event [3].
Transitions can be influenced by a variety of factors including one's stage of development, such as graduation from high school, historical events, including war, and idiosyncratic factors, such as health status [4,5]. Of particular interest in the present study are transitional life events, brought about or altered by progressive chronic illness and disability, and the impact of these events on the lives of affected individuals.
It has been recognized that the clinical characteristics of a chronic illness or disability may alter the course and timing of many developmentally-related transitional events [6]. For example, conditions associated with a shortened lifespan may cause an individual to pursue a career with a shorter course of training [6]. Specific medical manifestations may also promote a lifestyle incongruent with developmental needs [6,7]. For example, an adolescent with a disability may have difficulty achieving autonomy because of his/her physical dependence on others.
In addition to the aforementioned effects of chronic illness and disability on developmentally-related transitional events, a growing body of literature has described disease-related transitional events: those changes that are a direct result of chronic illness and disability. Diagnosis has received attention as being a key disease-related transitional event [8,9]. Studies have also noted other disease transitions related to illness trajectory [10], as the clinical features of the disease may require the individual to make specific adaptations. Disease-related events have also been described in terms of accompanying psychological processes, such as one's awareness of differences brought about by illness [11].
While disease-related events are seemingly significant, the patient's perception of the events is varied. Some events may be perceived as positive experiences for the individual. For example, a diagnosis may end years of uncertainty. Some individuals may perceive these transitional events as insignificant, as they have accommodated to the continual change brought about by a chronic disease [12,13].
The aforementioned impact of disability and chronic illness on transitional events may create psychological stress. Developed by Lazarus and Folkman, the Transitional Model of Stress and Coping describes the process of adaptation to a health condition [14]. This model purports that individuals first appraise a stressor and then utilize a variety of coping strategies in order to meet the stressor's demands [14]. Thus, in the context of chronic illness, the ability of the individual to cope successfully with the stress of a health threat contributes to the process of overall adaptation to the condition.
The process of adaptation can be more complex when the chronic illness or disability is progressive. Each transition brought about or altered by the disability may also represent additional loss, including the loss of future plans, freedom in social life and the ability to participate in hobbies [15]. These losses may be accompanied by grief, uncertainty, and a continual need for adaptation [16,17].
Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is one example of a progressive disorder, leading to adolescent and adult onset disability. To better understand patients' perceptions of key transitional events and the factors perceived to facilitate progression through these events, individuals with FRDA were interviewed.
FRDA is a rare, progressive, neurodegenerative disorder affecting approximately one in 30,000 people in the United States [18]. It equally affects both men and women. Individuals with FRDA experience progressive muscle weakness and loss of coordination in the arms and legs. For most patients, ataxia leads to motor incapacitation and full-time use of a wheelchair, commonly by the late teens or early twenties. Other complications such as vision and hearing impairment, dysarthria, scoliosis, diabetes mellitus and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may occur [19,20]. Cardiomyopathy and respiratory difficulties often lead to premature death at an average age of 37 years [21]. Currently, there are no treatments or cures for FRDA. Little is known about the specific psychological or psychosocial effects of the condition.
FRDA is an autosomal recessive condition. The typical molecular basis of Friedreich ataxia is the expansion of a GAA trinucleotide repeat in both copies of the FXN gene [22]. Age of onset usually occurs in late childhood or early adolescence. However, the availability of genetic testing has identified affected individuals with an adult form of the condition. This late-onset form is thought to represent approximately 10-15% of the total FRDA population [23].
Health care providers of individuals with progressive, neurodegenerative disorders can help facilitate their patients' progression through transitional events. Data suggest that improvements should be made in the care of these individuals. Shaw et al. [24] found that individualized care that helps to prepare patients for transition is beneficial. Beisecker et al. [25] found that patients desire not only physical care from their providers, but also emotional and psychosocial support.
Genetic counselors have an important opportunity to help patients with neuromuscular disorders progress through transitional events, as several of these conditions have a genetic etiology. Genetic counselors in pediatric and adult settings often develop long-term relationships with patients, due to follow-up care. This extended relationship is becoming increasingly common as genetic counselors move into various medical sub-specialties, such as neurology, ophthalmology, oncology and cardiology.
The role of the genetic counselor in addressing the psychosocial needs of patients has been advocated, but rarely framed in the context of developmental events [26]. Data suggest that patients may not expect a genetic counselor to address psychosocial needs [27]. In a survey of genetic counseling patients, Wertz [28] found a majority of respondents understood genetic conditions to have a moderate to serious effect on family life and finances, while almost half perceived there to be an effect on the spouse, quality of life, and the relationship between home and work. However, these topics were reportedly not discussed within genetic counseling sessions [27,28]. Overall, there is limited information about the experiences of transitional life events in FRDA, as well as a lack of recommendations for genetic counselors and other health care providers to assist patients through these events.
Our study investigated perceptions of patients with Friedreich ataxia to 1) identify key transitional events and specific needs associated with events; 2) describe perception of factors to facilitate progression through the identified events; and 3) explore the actual or potential role of the health care provider in facilitating adaptation to the identified events. Data were used to make suggestions for developmental genetic counseling approaches in the context of ongoing care of clients with hereditary, progressive, neurodegenerative conditions.
PMCID: PMC2987979  PMID: 20979606
5.  Can negative life events and coping style help explain socioeconomic differences in perceived stress among adolescents? A cross-sectional study based on the West Jutland cohort study 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:532.
Previous research suggests that perceived stress in adolescence is socially patterned, but that this relationship may depend on the measure of socioeconomic status (SES) used. This study examines if social gradients in perceived stress, negative life events, and coping exist amongst Danish adolescents, and, if life events and coping strategies can partly account for an association between SES and perceived stress. These relationships are studied separately for two different measures of SES.
Questionnaire data were collected from 3054 14–15 year old youths (83% response rate) during baseline measurement in the West Jutland birth cohort study. Parents were identified via the Central Office of Civil Registration in which the respondents are linked to their parents or guardians via their CPR-number, a personal identification number given to everyone in Denmark. The study employs data from two independent sources, adolescent self-report data (stress, life events and coping) and national registers (parental educational level, household income and confounder variables). Ordinary Least Squares regression estimated the effects of parental SES, negative life events and coping on perceived stress. Analyses were stratified by gender.
Girls reported more perceived stress than boys. SES accounted for a small but significant amount of the variance in perceived stress. Lower parental education and lower household income were associated with higher stress levels irrespective of gender, but the social gradient was strongest amongst girls when parents’ education was used to measure SES, and strongest for boys when income was used. Life events and coping were also found to be associated with SES and both mediated part of the SES-perceived stress relationship. In general, the social gradient in perceived stress was accounted for by the study variables to a higher degree among girls than among boys.
Lower parental education and household income are associated with higher levels of perceived stress amongst Danish adolescents. Furthermore, both life events and coping appear to mediate this relation. Gender differences in the ways SES and stress are related may exist.
PMCID: PMC3679909  PMID: 23724872
Social gradient; Perceived stress; Life events; Coping; Adolescence
6.  Self-perceived stress reactivity is an indicator of psychosocial impairment at the workplace 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:252.
Work related stress is associated with a range of debilitating health outcomes. However, no unanimously accepted assessment tool exists for the early identification of individuals suffering from chronic job stress. The psychological concept of self-perceived stress reactivity refers to the individual disposition of a person to answer stressors with immediate as well as long lasting stress reactions, and it could be a valid indicator of current as well as prospective adverse health outcomes. The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which perceived stress reactivity correlates with various parameters of psychosocial health, cardiovascular risk factors, and parameters of chronic stress and job stress in a sample of middle-aged industrial employees in a so-called "sandwich-position".
In this cross-sectional study, a total of 174 industrial employees were assessed for psychosocial and biological stress parameters. Differences between groups with high and low stress reactivity were analysed. Logistic regression models were applied to identify which parameters allow to predict perceived high versus low stress reactivity.
In our sample various parameters of psychosocial stress like chronic stress and effort-reward imbalance were significantly increased in comparison to the normal population. Compared to employees with perceived low stress reactivity, those with perceived high stress reactivity showed poorer results in health-related complaints, depression, anxiety, sports behaviour, chronic stress, and effort-reward imbalance. The educational status of employees with perceived low stress reactivity is higher. Education, cardiovascular complaints, chronic stress, and effort-reward imbalance were moderate predictors for perceived stress reactivity. However, no relationship was found between stress reactivity and cardiovascular risk factors in our sample.
Job stress is a major burden in a relevant subgroup of industrial employees in a middle management position. Self-perceived stress reactivity seems to be an appropriate concept to identify employees who experience psychosocial stress and associated psychological problems at the workplace.
PMCID: PMC2881886  PMID: 20470413
7.  Does Gender Predict Medical Students’ Stress in Mansoura, Egypt? 
Medical education is perceived as being stressful with negative effects on students’ mental health. However, few studies have addressed the influence of gender on stress in medical students.
To compare male and female medical students in Egypt on sources of stress, perception of stress, anxiety, depression, physical symptomatology, and personality profile.
Data were collected through an anonymous self-administered questionnaire covering socio-demographic data, stressors, perceived stress scale, physical wellbeing factors, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale as well as neuroticism and extraversion subscales of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire.
Stressors were reported by 94.5% of the total sample with equal gender proportions. Univariate analysis indicated that female students scored higher than males on depression and neuroticism scales while male and female medical students were similar on level of perceived stress, number of stressors, clinical anxiety, physical well-being factors and the extraversion scale. Multivariate logistic regression revealed that the independent predictors of a high stress level were the presence of more than five stressors, clinical anxiety and depression, and increased scores on the global sickness index and on the extraversion and neuroticism sub-scales.
Despite there being no significant difference in perceived stress according to gender, females were less likely to cite relationship problems with teachers and substance abuse as sources of stress. Moreover, females scored significantly higher than males on depression and neuroticism scales.
PMCID: PMC2779606  PMID: 20168973
gender; medical student; stress; depression; anxiety.
8.  Perceived Stress, Sources and Severity of Stress among medical undergraduates in a Pakistani Medical School 
Recently there is a growing concern about stress during undergraduate medical training. However, studies about the same are lacking from Pakistani medical schools. The objectives of our study were to assess perceived stress, sources of stress and their severity and to assess the determinants of stressed cases.
A cross-sectional, questionnaire-based survey was carried out among undergraduate medical students of CMH Lahore Medical College, Pakistan during January to March 2009. Perceived stress was assessed using the perceived stress scale. A 33-item questionnaire was used to assess sources of stress and their severity.
The overall response rate was 80.5% (161 out of 200 students). The overall mean perceived stress was 30.84 (SD = 7.01) and was significantly higher among female students. By logistic regression analysis, stressed cases were associated with occurrence of psychosocial (OR 5.01, 95% CI 2.44-10.29) and academic related stressors (OR 3.17 95% CI 1.52-6.68). The most common sources of stress were related to academic and psychosocial concerns. 'High parental expectations', 'frequency of examinations', 'vastness of academic curriculum', 'sleeping difficulties', 'worrying about the future', 'loneliness', 'becoming a doctor', 'performance in periodic examinations' were the most frequently and severely occurring sources of stress. There was a negative but insignificant correlation between perceived stress and academic performance (r = -0.099, p > 0.05).
A higher level of perceived stress was reported by the students. The main stressors were related to academic and psychosocial domains. Further studies are required to test the association between stressed cases and gender, academic stressors and psychosocial stressors.
PMCID: PMC2820489  PMID: 20078853
9.  Life events, perceived stress and depressive symptoms in a physical activity intervention with young adult women 
Examine interactive effects of life events, perceived stress and depressive symptoms during a randomized controlled aerobics intervention among women (aged 18–30) in the urban U.S. Midwest, 2006–2009.
Participants [n=372 at baseline and n=303 at follow up] completed perceived stress, depressive symptoms and life events scales at baseline and 5–6 month follow-up. Life events were correlated with perceived stress and depressive symptoms scales using Pearson correlation. Multivariate linear regression tested the relationship between the 20 most common life events with perceived stress and depressive symptoms. Regression models explored relationships between life events, perceived stress and depressive symptoms and the intervention effect.
Higher levels of perceived stress and depressive symptoms correlated with more life events. At baseline, for every additional life event, depressive symptoms were higher; follow-up showed marginal significance with depressive symptoms, but a strong positive association with perceived stress. In the stratified model, for every life event at follow up, the perceived stress scale increased by 0.68 in the exercise group, but not in the controls. For every life event at follow-up, depressive symptoms were higher in controls, but not in the exercise group.
Perceived stress and depressive symptoms co-occurred with life events at baseline and follow-up for participants. At follow up, perceived stress increased significantly among exercisers; depressive symptoms were significantly higher among controls. Findings suggest that new participation in structured physical activity entails a change in daily life that may buffer against depressive symptoms in relation to life events but not perceived stress.
PMCID: PMC3505451  PMID: 23189088
life events; adult women; exercise intervention; perceived stress; depressive symptoms
10.  Stress, Coping Strategies and Related Factors in a Sample of Iranian Adolescents 
Since the stress and coping are the most reported problems by adolescents, this study aims to apprise the stressors, coping strategies and influential factors among male adolescents.
The effect of stressors, coping strategies and some demographics variables were studied in 402 male adolescents in Tehran, Iran. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the data. A multiple regression was performed to assess factors related to perceived stress.
The mean age of adolescents was 15.44 (SD=0.68) years. The mean value of perceived stress for the whole sample was 17.99 (SD=6.02). Cognitive/emotional coping was the most frequent coping style. The findings revealed that there was a significant correlation between perceived and accumulative stress. In multiple regression analysis, the accumulative stress, social resources, parent`s education and grade point average were found to be significant predictors of perceived stress.
The findings suggest that increased level of perceived stress is associated with accumulative stress, social resources and parent`s education that are modifiable factors. Stress management education might be a solution to overcome increased perceived stress.
PMCID: PMC3372014  PMID: 22737538
Perceived stress; Adolescents; Coping; Iran
11.  Are Students’ Symptoms and Health Complaints Associated with Perceived Stress at University? Perspectives from the United Kingdom and Egypt 
This cross-sectional survey assessed and compared by country, the levels and correlates of 21 self-reported symptoms/health complaints. We examined the associations between self-reported symptoms and perceived stress. Data was collected from universities in the United Kingdom and Egypt (N = 3706 and 3271 undergraduates, respectively). A self-administered questionnaire assessed a range of self-reported symptoms, perceived stress, sociodemographic (gender, age, marital status, year of study, living arrangements during semester, income sufficiency), lifestyle (tobacco smoking, illicit drug/s use, alcohol consumption frequency), and health variables (subjective health status, health awareness, BMI), along with religiosity, and quality of life. Factor analysis categorized the 21 self-reported symptoms into four components. Correlation analysis and linear regression tested the associations between the self-reported symptoms and stress. Factor analysis of the health symptoms generated four symptom groups for each of the UK and Egypt (psychological; circulatory/breathing; gastrointestinal; and, pains/aches), and factor loadings were quite similar for both countries. Whilst the two samples showed similarities as to the kind of symptoms most frequently reported by students, the Egyptian sample had significantly higher frequency than the UK for every symptom. Frequent complaints (both countries) included difficulties to concentrate, fatigue, headaches, nervousness/anxiety, and back pain (UK) and mood swings (Egypt). Significantly more Egyptian students reported ≥4 symptoms over the past year than the UK. For each of the UK and Egypt, across each of the four symptom groups, there was a stepladder appearance whereby the frequency of symptoms increased with increasing quartiles of perceived stress. Not controlling for other variables, for both countries, there were significant positive correlations between each of the four symptom groups and stress; the highest correlation was for psychological symptoms. After controlling for sex, age country, and other symptom groups, stress was highly and significantly associated with psychological symptoms and also with pain & aches symptoms in both countries. UK students were generally less stressed than their counterparts in Egypt. Age and female gender were also associated with stress; the younger the student was the more likely to suffer from stress. Interactions were not significant. Across both countries, the levels of stress among students and the associations between perceived stress and health complaints suggest the need for a multiple approaches in order to understand the sources of stress; how college students experience stress; and, the coping mechanisms that different students employ to mitigate stress. Interventions aimed at both preventing, treating and caring for students’ distress, and also preventive strategies to help minimize the impact of stressful situations are required. Strategies that address both physical and psychological complaints may be beneficial for this population.
PMCID: PMC4210962  PMID: 25264677
psychosomatic symptoms; subjective health complaints; university students; UK; Egypt; college health
12.  Cortisol in hair measured in young adults - a biomarker of major life stressors? 
Stress as a cause of illness has been firmly established. In public health and stress research a retrospective biomarker of extended stress would be an indispensible aid. The objective of this pilot study was to investigate whether concentrations of cortisol in hair correlate with perceived stress, experiences of serious life events, and perceived health in young adults.
Hair samples were cut from the posterior vertex area of (n = 99) university students who also answered a questionnaire covering experiences of serious life events, perceived Stress Scale and perceived health during the last three months. Cortisol was measured using a competitive radioimmunoassay in methanol extracts of hair samples frozen in liquid nitrogen and mechanically pulverised.
Mean cortisol levels were significantly related to serious life events (p = 0.045), weakly negatively correlated to perceived stress (p = 0.025, r = -0.061) but nor affected by sex, coloured/permed hair, intake of pharmaceuticals or self-reported health. In a multiple regression model, only the indicator of serious life events had an independent (p = 0.041) explanation of increased levels of cortisol in hair. Out of four outliers with extremely high cortisol levels two could be contacted, both reported serious psychological problems.
These findings suggest that measurement of cortisol in hair could serve as a retrospective biomarker of increased cortisol production reflecting exposure to major life stressors and possibly extended psychological illness with important implications for research, clinical practice and public health. Experience of serious life events seems to be more important in raising cortisol levels in hair than perceived stress.
PMCID: PMC3217842  PMID: 22026917
Biomarker; Coping; Cortisol; Hair; Serious life events; Stress
13.  Exploring Stress Levels, Job Satisfaction, and Quality of Life in a Sample of Police Officers in Greece 
Safety and Health at Work  2014;5(4):210-215.
The ongoing economic crisis in Greece has affected both stress and quality of life (QoL) at all socioeconomic levels, including professionals in the police force. The aim of this study was to examine perceived stress, job satisfaction, QoL, and their relationships in a sample of police officers in Greece.
A cross-sectional study was conducted during the first trimester of 2011 in 23 police stations in the greater Athens area. A total of 201 police officers agreed to participate (response rate 44.6%). The General Health Questionnaire-28 (GHQ-28) was used to assess general health, and the World Health Organization Quality of Life-BREF Questionnaire and Perceived Stress Scale-14 (PSS-14) questionnaires were used to assess QoL and perceived stress, respectively.
The PSS and GHQ subscales and total scores exhibited strong, positive, and significant correlations coefficients (r): 0.52 for somatic disturbances, 0.56 for stress and insomnia, 0.40 for social dysfunction, and 0.37 for depression, yielding an r equal to 0.57 for the total GHQ score. A higher level of perceived stress was related to a lower likelihood of being satisfied with their job; in this regard, male participants and higher ranked officers reported lower job satisfaction. The PSS and GHQ scores were inversely, consistently, and significantly related to almost all of the QoL aspects, explaining up to 34% of their variability. Parenthood had a positive effect on QoL related to physical health, and women reported lower QoL related to psychological health.
Higher levels of stress are related to an increased risk of reporting suboptimal job satisfaction and QoL. The magnitude of these associations varied depending on age, gender, and rank, highlighting the need for stress-management training.
PMCID: PMC4266800  PMID: 25516814
health promotion; job satisfaction; occupational stress; police officers; quality of life
14.  Relationship between general intelligence, emotional intelligence, stress levels and stress reactivity 
Annals of Neurosciences  2012;19(3):107-111.
Stressful life events and daily life stresses have both deleterious and cumulative effects on human body. In several studies, stress has been shown to affect various parameter of higher mental function like attention, concentration, learning and memory.
Present study was designed to explore the relationship among GI level, EI level, psychological stress levels and acute stress reactivity in young normal healthy subjects.
The study was conducted on thirty four healthy male student volunteers to study a) acute stress reactivity in subjects with varying levels of General Intelligence (GI) and Emotional Intelligence (EI) and b) correlation between GI, EI, acute stress and perceived stress. Baseline GI and EI and acute stress and perceived stress scores were measured by standard assessment scales. Using median value of GI and EI scores as cutoff values, subjects were categorized into four groups. Among different GI-EI groups, acute stress reactivity was similar but salivary Cortisol (especially post stressor level) and perceived stress level was a differentiating factor.
High level of EI was associated inversely with acute and chronic perceived stress level. Significant correlation was found between acute and chronic perceived stress levels. Level of general intelligence showed no relation to acute or chronic stress levels as well as acute stress reactivity. The differences in various groups of GI and EI had no effect on the baseline and post stress performance on Sternberg memory test and all the three conditions of Stroop test.
In conclusion emotional intelligence as an attribute is better suited to handle day to day acute stress and chronic perceived stress.
PMCID: PMC4117081  PMID: 25205980
Stress; General intelligence; Emotional intelligence; Stress reactivity
15.  Exploring relationships over time between psychological distress, perceived stress, life events and immature defense style on disordered eating pathology 
BMC Psychology  2013;1(1):27.
Perceived stress, immature defense style, depression and anxiety and negative life events all are known to be associated with eating disorders. The present study aimed to investigate the relationships between these factors and their relative strength of association with eating disorder symptoms over time.
This research was embedded in a longitudinal study of adult women with varying levels of eating disorder symptoms and who were initially recruited from tertiary educational institutions in two Australian states. Four years from initial recruitment, 371 participants completed the Eating Disorder Examination- Questionnaire (EDE-Q) for eating disorder symptoms.
Kessler-10 Psychological Distress Scale (K-10) as a measure of depression and anxiety, a Life Events Checklist as a measure of previous exposure to potentially traumatic events, the Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ) and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) to determine perceived stress. One year later, in year 5, 295 (878.7%) completed follow-up assessments including the EDE-Q. The questionnaires were completed online or returned via reply paid post.
All four independent factors were found to correlate significantly with the global EDE-Q score in cross-sectional analyses (all Spearman rho (rs) >0.18, p < 0.01) and at one year follow-up (all rs > 0.15, all p < 0.05). In multivariate linear regression modeling adjusted for age and year 4 global EDE-Q scores, perceived stress and psychological distress scores were significantly associated with year 5 global EDE-Q scores (p = 0.046 and <0.001 respectively).
Psychological distress, and to a lesser degree perceived stress had the strongest association with eating disorder symptoms over time The findings support further investigation of interventions to reduce distress and perceived stress in adult females with disordered eating.
PMCID: PMC4270025  PMID: 25566375
Psychological distress; Perceived stress; Life events; Defense style; Eating disorders
16.  Socioeconomic status and stress in Mexican–American women: a multi-method perspective 
Journal of behavioral medicine  2012;36(4):379-388.
Stress is a hypothesized pathway in socioeconomic status (SES)-physical health associations, but the available empirical data are inconsistent. In part, this may reflect discrepancies in the approach to measuring stress across studies, and differences in the nature of SES-stress associations across demographic groups. We examined associations of SES (education, income) with general and domain-specific chronic stressors, stressful life events, perceived stress, and stressful daily experiences in 318 Mexican–American women (40–65 years old). Women with higher SES reported lower perceived stress and fewer low-control experiences in everyday life (ps < .05), but greater chronic stress (education only, p < .05). Domain-specific analyses showed negative associations of income with chronic housing and financial stress (ps < .05), but positive associations of SES with chronic work and care-giving stress (all ps < .05 except for income and caregiving stress, p < .10). Sensitivity analyses showed that most SES-stress associations were consistent across acculturation levels. Future research should adopt a multi-dimensional assessment approach to better understand links among SES, stress, and physical health, and should consider the sociodemographic context in conceptualizing the role of stress in SES-related health inequalities.
PMCID: PMC3929319  PMID: 22644814
Hispanic; Latino; Socioeconomic status; Stress
17.  What contributes to perceived stress in later life? A recursive partitioning approach 
Psychology and aging  2011;26(4):830-843.
One possible explanation for the individual differences in outcomes of stress is the diversity of inputs that produce perceptions of being stressed. The current study examines how combinations of contextual features (e.g., social isolation, neighborhood quality, health problems, age discrimination, financial concerns, and recent life events) of later life contribute to overall feelings of stress. Recursive partitioning techniques (regression trees and random forests) were used to examine unique interrelations between predictors of perceived stress in a sample of 282 community-dwelling adults. Trees provided possible examples of equifinality (i.e., subsets of people with similar levels of perceived stress but different predictors) as well as for the identification both of contextual combinations that separated participants with very high and very low perceived stress. Random forest analyses aggregated across many trees based on permuted versions of the data and predictors; loneliness, financial strain, neighborhood strain, ageism, and to some extent life events emerged as important predictors. Interviews with a subsample of participants provided both thick description of the complex relationships identified in the trees, as well as additional risks not appearing in the survey results. Together, the analyses highlight what may be missed when stress is used as a simple unidimensional construct and can guide differential intervention efforts.
PMCID: PMC3177031  PMID: 21604885
Perceived Stress; Loneliness; Regression Trees; Random Forests; Aging
18.  Fatigue and Sleep Disturbance Related to Perceived Stress in Chinese HIV-Positive Individuals: A Mixed Methods Study 
Few studies of HIV+ individuals in China have examined the associations between HIV-related stress with sleep disturbance and fatigue, which are common complaints among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). We carried out this study to examine the relationships among perceived stress, sleep disturbance, and fatigue in PLWHA in China.
A mixed methods study design was used during data collection in Shanghai, China, from December 2009 to March 2010. Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 HIV+ females. Additionally, cross-sectional audio computer-assisted self-interviews (ACASI) were conducted to collect quantitative data from a convenience sample of 107 HIV+ patients (84% were male) including the following scales: 1) Perceived Stress Scale for PLWHA, 2) General Sleep Disturbance Scale, and 3) Fatigue Scale.
The major themes that emerged from the in-depth interviews were around life stress with HIV, sleep disturbance, and fatigue. Participants presented varying amounts of stress around worrying about whether to disclose their diagnosis and whether they might transmit the disease to their family. In addition, in the cross-sectional data, 40% of the participants reported clinically significant sleep disturbances (GSDS > 3) with an average of 3 nights of disturbed sleep in the past week (M=2.87, SD=1.21) and moderate fatigue severity (M=5.24, SD=2.27). In mediation analyses, the data suggests that the relationship between perceived stress and fatigue was largely (53%) mediated through sleep disturbance.
Chinese PLWHA described how stress had caused them to become sleepless and fatigued. The quantitative data also demonstrated significant levels of sleep disturbance and fatigue, where were due to perceived stress with HIV disease. A systematic self-management intervention to decrease perceived stress should be designed and implemented in mental health resource-limited settings such as China in order to reduce sleep disturbance and fatigue.
PMCID: PMC3840538  PMID: 24288655
China; PLWHA; Perceived stress; Sleep disturbance; Fatigue; Cronbach alpha coefficient
19.  A Stress-Coping Model of Mental Illness Stigma: II. Emotional Stress Responses, Coping Behavior and Outcome 
Schizophrenia research  2009;110(1-3):65-71.
Stigma can be a major stressor for people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, leading to emotional stress reactions and cognitive coping responses. Stigma is appraised as a stressor if perceived stigma-related harm exceeds an individual’s perceived coping resources. It is unclear, however, how people with mental illness react to stigma stress and how that affects outcomes such as self-esteem, hopelessness and social performance. The cognitive appraisal of stigma stress as well as emotional stress reactions (social anxiety, shame) and cognitive coping responses were assessed by self-report among 85 people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective or affective disorders. In addition to self-directed outcomes (self-esteem, hopelessness), social interaction with majority outgroup members was assessed by a standardized role-play test and a seating distance measure. High stigma stress was associated with increased social anxiety and shame, but not with cognitive coping responses. Social anxiety and shame predicted lower self-esteem and more hopelessness, but not social performance or seating distance. Hopelessness was associated with the coping mechanisms of devaluing work/education and of blaming discrimination for failures. The coping mechanism of ingroup comparisons predicted poorer social performance and increased seating distance. The cognitive appraisal of stigma-related stress, emotional stress reactions and coping responses may add to our understanding of how stigma affects people with mental illness. Trade-offs between different stress reactions can explain why stress reactions predicted largely negative outcomes. Emotional stress reactions and dysfunctional coping could be useful targets for interventions aiming to reduce the negative impact of stigma on people with mental illness.
PMCID: PMC2720565  PMID: 19237266
stigma; stress; coping; anxiety; shame; self-esteem; hopelessness; social performance
20.  Association of academic stress with sleeping difficulties in medical students of a Pakistani medical school: a cross sectional survey 
PeerJ  2015;3:e840.
Introduction. Medicine is one of the most stressful fields of education because of its highly demanding professional and academic requirements. Psychological stress, anxiety, depression and sleep disturbances are highly prevalent in medical students.
Methods. This cross-sectional study was undertaken at the Combined Military Hospital Lahore Medical College and the Institute of Dentistry in Lahore (CMH LMC), Pakistan. Students enrolled in all yearly courses for the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree were included. The questionnaire consisted of four sections: (1) demographics (2) a table listing 34 potential stressors, (3) the 14-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-14), and (4) the Pittsburgh Quality of Sleep Index (PSQI). Logistic regression was run to identify associations between group of stressors, gender, year of study, student’s background, stress and quality of sleep.
Results. Total response rate was 93.9% (263/280 respondents returned the questionnaire). The mean (SD) PSS-14 score was 30 (6.97). Logistic regression analysis showed that cases of high-level stress were associated with year of study and academic-related stressors only. Univariate analysis identified 157 cases with high stress levels (59.7%). The mean (SD) PSQI score was 8.1 (3.12). According to PSQI score, 203/263 respondents (77%) were poor sleepers. Logistic regression showed that mean PSS-14 score was a significant predictor of PSQI score (OR 1.99, P < 0.05).
Conclusion. We found a very high prevalence of academic stress and poor sleep quality among medical students. Many medical students reported using sedatives more than once a week. Academic stressors contributed significantly to stress and sleep disorders in medical students.
PMCID: PMC4369327  PMID: 25802809
Sleep disturbance; Academic stressors; Stress; Perceived stress scale; Pittsburgh sleep quality index; Academic performance; Medical students
21.  Psychosocial Factors in Risk of Cervical Intraepithelial Lesions 
Journal of Women's Health  2009;18(4):513-518.
This study examines the relationship among psychosocial factors, behavioral risks for abnormal cervical cytology, and abnormal cervical cytology.
A self-administered questionnaire was used to measure perceived stress, discrimination, lifetime stressful events, optimism, social support, and psychological state. Women with normal Pap smears attending a primary care clinic and women attending a colposcopy clinic because of an abnormal Pap smear were eligible. The scores between the two groups were compared.
A total of 265 women participated in the study. There were no significant relationships between psychosocial factors and cervical cytology status. In a regression model, age (B = −0.057, p = 0.001) was predictive of having abnormal cervical cytology. Smoking was correlated with an increased family Apgar score (p = 0.021), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) score (p = 0.049), and Revised Life Stressor Checklist score (p < 0.001). A higher mean number of lifetime male partners was related to increased family Apgar score (p = 0.012), Revised Life Stressor Checklist score (p < 0.001), and major event discrimination (p < 0.001). Earlier age at coitarche was associated with increased family Apgar score (p < 0.001).
These results do not support that psychosocial factors play a role in the risk of developing abnormal cervical cytology. Behavioral risks for developing abnormal cervical cytology are associated with life stressors, family function, and perceived discrimination.
PMCID: PMC2857606  PMID: 19361319
22.  Occupational stress among staff nurses: Controlling the risk to health 
Nursing has been identified as an occupation that has high levels of stress. Job stress brought about hazardous impacts not only on nurses’ health but also on their abilities to cope with job demands.
This study aimed at finding out the degree of work-related stress among the staff nurses and various determinants, which have a impact on it.
Materials and Methods:
Institutional-based cross-sectional study conducted on GNM qualified nurses. Predesigned and pre-tested questionnaire covering their sociodemographic variables in part I and professional life stress scale by David Fontana in part II. Analysis used was Chi-square test and logistic regression for various factors.
Risk for professional stress due to poor and satisfactory doctor's attitude was found about 3 and 4 times more than with excellent attitude of doctors toward the staff nurses. A statistically significant association (P < 0.024) between department of posting and level of stress. Nurses reported that they had no time for rest, of whom 42% were suffering from moderate-to-severe stress. The nurses who felt that the job was not tiring were found to be less stressed as those who perceived job as tiring (OR = 0.43).
The main nurses’ occupational stressors were poor doctor's attitude, posting in busy departments (emergency/ICU), inadequate pay, too much work, and so on. Thus, hospital managers should initiate strategies to reduce the amount of occupational stress and should provide more support to the nurses to deal with the stress.
PMCID: PMC4280777  PMID: 25568598
Professional stress; staff nurse; interpersonal relationship
23.  Anxiety symptoms among Chinese nurses and the associated factors: a cross sectional study 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:141.
Nurses are an indispensable component of the work force in the health care system. However, many of them are known to work in a stressful environment which may affect their mental well-being; the situation could be worse in rapidly transforming societies such as China. The purpose of this study was to investigate anxiety symptoms and the associated factors in Chinese nurses working in public city hospitals.
A cross-sectional survey was performed for Chinese nurses in public city hospitals of Liaoning Province, northeast China. Seven hospitals in different areas of the province were randomly selected for the study. The Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale was used to measure anxiety symptoms. Effort-reward imbalance questionnaire and Job Content Questionnaire were used to assess the work stressors. Univariate analysis and stepwise multivariate logistic regression analysis were used to identify the factors associated with anxiety symptoms.
All registered nurses in the seven city hospitals, totaling 1807 registered nurses were surveyed. Of the returned questionnaires, 1437 were valid (79.5%) for analysis. Utilizing the total raw score ≥ 40 as the cut-off point, the prevalence of anxiety symptoms in these nurses was 43.4%. Demographic factors (education, chronic disease and life event), lifestyle factors (regular meals and physical exercise), work conditions (hospital grade, job rank, monthly salary, nurse-patient relationships, job satisfaction and intention of leaving), job content (social support and decision latitude), effort-reward imbalance and overcommitment were all significantly related to the anxiety symptoms. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed main factors associated with anxiety symptoms were lower job rank (OR 2.501), overcommitment (OR 2.018), chronic diseases (OR 1.541), worse nurse-patient relationship (OR 1.434), higher social support (OR 0.573), lower hospital grade (OR 0.629), taking regular meals (OR 0.719) and higher level of job satisfaction (OR 0.722).
A large proportion of Chinese nurses working in public city hospitals had anxiety symptoms, which warrants immediate investigation and intervention from the hospital administrators. Meanwhile, results of the study suggest that proper counseling, promotion of healthy lifestyle behavior and improvements to the social environment in the work place may be helpful toward reducing or preventing the anxiety symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3492072  PMID: 22978466
24.  Stress Level and Smoking Status in Central Iran: Isfahan Healthy Heart Program 
ARYA Atherosclerosis  2011;6(4):144-148.
Individuals are faced with numerous stressful life events which can negatively influence mental health. Many individuals use smoking as a means of confronting stress. Given the relatively high prevalence of smoking in central Iran, the present study was conducted to compare stress levels in smokers, non-smokers and those who had quit smoking.
This study was conducted as part of Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Program on 9752 individuals in the cities of Isfahan, Arak, and Najafabad in 2008. Sampling was performed using multi-stage cluster randomization method. Data on age, sex, demographic characteristics, and smoking status was collected through interviews. Stress level detected by General Health questionnaire.Logistic regression and chi- squere test was used for data analyzing.
In the present study, 30% of non-smokers, 32.1% ex- smoker and 36.9% of smokers had GHQ of 4 and higher (P=0.01). In regression analysis, the final model which was controlled for age, sex, socioeconomic statues (including place of residence, marital status and education level) showed that the odds ratio of stress in smokers and ex- smoker was significantly higher than in non-smokers (OR=1.66 and OR=1.12, respectively).
Since in conducted studies, mental problems and stresses have had an important role in people's smoking, it seems suitable to use the results of this study to present intervention for correct methods of coping with stress towards reducing the prevalence of smoking in the community.
PMCID: PMC3347833  PMID: 22577433
Cigarette; Stress; Community-based Program.
25.  Cumulative Stress and Cortisol Disruption among Black and Hispanic Pregnant Women in an Urban Cohort 
While adult hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis functioning is thought to be altered by traumatic experiences, little data exist on the effects of cumulative stress on HPA functioning among pregnant women or among specific racial and ethnic groups. Individuals may be increasingly vulnerable to physiological alterations when experiencing cumulative effects of multiple stressors. These effects may be particularly relevant in urban poor communities where exposure to multiple stressors is more prevalent. The goal of this study was to explore the effects of multiple social stressors on HPA axis functioning in a sample of urban Black (n = 68) and Hispanic (n = 132) pregnant women enrolled in the Asthma Coalition on Community, Environment, and Social Stress (ACCESS). Pregnant women were administered the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale (R-CTS) survey to assess interpersonal violence, the Experiences of Discrimination (EOD) survey, the Crisis in Family Systems-Revised (CRISYS-R) negative life events survey, and the My Exposure to Violence (ETV) survey, which ascertains exposure to community violence. A cumulative stress measure was derived from these instruments. Salivary cortisol samples were collected five times per day over three days to assess area under the curve (AUC), morning change, and basal awakening response in order to characterize diurnal salivary cortisol patterns. Repeated measures mixed models, stratified by race/ethnicity, were performed adjusting for education level, age, smoking status, body mass index and weeks pregnant at time of cortisol sampling. The majority of Hispanic participants (57%) had low cumulative stress exposure, while the majority of Black participants had intermediate (35%) or high (41%) cumulative stress exposure. Results showed that among Black but not Hispanic women, cumulative stress was associated with lower morning cortisol levels, including a flatter waking to bedtime rhythm. These analyses suggest that the combined effects of cumulative stressful experiences are associated with disrupted HPA functioning among pregnant women. While the etiology of racial/ethnic differences in stress-induced HPA alterations is not clear, this warrants further research.
PMCID: PMC3057193  PMID: 21423846

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