Female students report higher stress levels than men, study finds – UNIVERSITY PRESS
Study finds long-term stress management is more effective than short-term
A recent post to study conducted by FAU researchers, with their associates, investigated gender differences in stress levels and selected coping strategies among undergraduate students.
The study measured how male and female college students perceived stress as well as the coping strategies they used to deal with it. Assuming a noticeable difference between their male and female subjects, the researchers were not disappointed.
The overall results of the study showed that the majority of female undergraduates reported higher levels of stress compared to their male peers and used emotion-based coping methods more often. Among the group of female subjects, 77.3% reported moderate stress levels and 21.6% reported severe stress levels. In comparison, 90.9% of male subjects reported moderate stress and only 7.1% reported severe stress.
The study categorized the listed stress management strategies as problem-focused, emotion-focused, or avoidant. Avoidant coping methods, such as procrastination or escapism, are the least effective in reducing stress and can lead to depressive symptoms overtime. Emotion-focused methods can provide temporary stress reduction, but research indicates that methods like ventilation can actually to augment stress levels over time. Problem-focused coping methods, such as mindfulness and help-seeking, have proven the most efficient to reduce stress by changing the perspective of the subject or by removing the stressor altogether.
Another measurable difference was found regarding the students’ overwhelming selection of four strategies included in the study, namely: emotional support, self-distraction, ventilation, and instrumental support. No such difference was demonstrated when measuring avoidant or problem-focused coping methods, demonstrating that both genders are equally likely to select methods such as procrastinating or seeking help.
By comparing the coping methods chosen by the majority of female subjects to all the strategies listed in the survey, the researchers concluded that female students lean more towards emotion-based methods than male students, meaning that female students are more likely to choose temporary stress relief methods. often choose problem-oriented stress reduction strategies.
If students do not know about positive coping methods, they are unable to use them. According to B. Sue Graves, Ed.D., associate professor at Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and lead author, “Students may need educational interventions to develop effective and healthy coping strategies that will last a lifetime. “.
According to the study, recognizing gender-specific differences in how students perceive and deal with stress may prove useful to university administration when drafting ideas for campus-wide stress reduction. . While the study calls for further investigation into gender disparities between perceived and reported levels of stress, the researchers said the evidence gathered can be applied to guidance policy formation and classroom development. .
The study’s co-authors are Michael E. Hall, Ph.D., associate professor; and Carolyn Dias-Karch, both from the FAU Department of Exercise Science and Health Promotion; Michael H. Haischer, MS, Center for Athletic and Human Performance Research and Exercise Science Program, Department of Physical Therapy, College of Health Sciences, Marquette University; and Christine Apter, from the FAU Campus Recreation Department.
Caroline Little is a staff writer for University Press. For more information regarding this story or other stories, email him at [email protected]