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Chronic stress among adolescents: Contributing factors and associations with academic achievement
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. (Biologisk psykologi och behandlingsforskning)
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

According to recent nationwide surveys there have been dramatic increases in stress and serious stress-related health problems among Swedish adolescents. The aims of the present thesis were to investigate the prevalence of perceived chronic stress among sixteen-year-old adolescents who attended their first year at high-ranking high schools in the Stockholm area, to examine if factors that have been found to be relevant in the development of chronic stress among adults also contribute to chronic stress among adolescents, and to investigate the associations between chronic stress and sleep-related variables and academic achievement. Data were collected by means of self-report instruments. The main outcomes showed that a substantial number of individuals (30%) reported to perceive severe stress symptoms. The highest degree was perceived by 8% who suffered from symptoms to an extent which otherwise only has been observed among adult clinical burnout patients. Besides, 15% reported severe stress symptoms throughout high school and were thus considered to suffer from chronic stress. Perceived high demands, low global self-esteem, sleep disturbances and low social support were crucial factors in explaining stress symptoms. Another finding showed that perceived chronic stress was associated with adolescents’ academic achievement. A closer look at the potential contribution of sleep-related variables to academic achievement revealed further that, apart from severe stress symptoms, social jetlag was involved in predicting variation in academic achievement. Overall, the findings indicated that there is a high prevalence of chronic stress among adolescents. The results should be taken seriously, as young people’s sense of well-being during this period impacts both their successful transition into adulthood and their life course. Future research options and potential practical applications in terms of chronic stress prevention were suggested and discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2013. , 65 p.
Keyword [en]
Chronic stress, adolescents, academic achievement, sleep, social jetlag, self-esteem, demand-control-support, gender
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88940ISBN: 978-91-7447-680-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-88940DiVA: diva2:614880
Public defence
2013-05-08, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted.

Available from: 2013-04-16 Created: 2013-04-08 Last updated: 2013-04-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Stress symptoms among adolescents: The role of subjective psychosocial conditions, lifestyle, and self-esteem
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Stress symptoms among adolescents: The role of subjective psychosocial conditions, lifestyle, and self-esteem
2011 (English)In: Journal of Adolescence, ISSN 0140-1971, E-ISSN 1095-9254, Vol. 34, no 5, 987-996 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Stress-related problems are increasing among Swedish adolescents, especially among females. The aims of this study were to survey the incidence of stress symptoms among 16-year-olds, to investigate the related gender differences, and to understand the factors that may contribute to stress symptoms. The study is questionnaire based, and the sample included 304 first-year high school students from two comparable schools. More than 30% of the high school students reported serious stress symptoms. Almost every second girl and every fifth boy reported that they felt stressed to a high degree. 8.2% were found to have severe stress symptoms, which would be considered a sign of chronic stress in adults. Besides the perception of high demands, low levels of global self-esteem, sleep disturbances, and poor social support played a crucial role in the prediction of stress symptoms. The findings highlight the need to develop and implement adequate stress prevention measures for adolescents.

Keyword
chronic stress, adolescents, psychosocial factors, self-esteem, gender differences
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-65504 (URN)10.1016/j.adolescence.2010.11.010 (DOI)000295948900016 ()
Note

This study has been supported by Länsförsäkringar Alliance. We want to thank the school staff in Herbsy and Gångsätra high school for their collaboration and the high school students for their participation in the present study.

Available from: 2011-12-12 Created: 2011-12-12 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
2. Chronic stress and its consequences on subsequent academic achievement among adolescents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Chronic stress and its consequences on subsequent academic achievement among adolescents
2012 (English)In: Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, ISSN 1927-0534, Vol. 2, no 1, 69-79 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Chronic stress has been associated with severe stress-related symptoms not only among adults but also among adolescents. The aim of the study was to investigate if chronic stress has implications for adolescents’ academic achievement. 270 high school students answered a questionnaire on stress symptoms on two occasions, at the beginning and at the end of high school. Those who perceived severe stress symptoms at both time points finished high school with significantly worse final grades than those who reported experiencing stress at only one or none of the time points. The risk for chronic stress was increased among adolescents with low global self-esteem, who perceived high demands and reported their self-rated health to be poor and their sleep duration to be insufficient. The results suggest that the early prevention of chronic stress is critical since, if left untreated, it can have serious consequences on young people’s future health and career possibilities.

Keyword
Chronic stress, Adolescents, Academic achievement
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-86687 (URN)10.5539/jedp.v2n1p69 (DOI)P2981 (Local ID)P2981 (Archive number)P2981 (OAI)
Available from: 2013-01-16 Created: 2013-01-16 Last updated: 2013-04-08Bibliographically approved
3. The role of social jetlag and stress in academic achievement among adolescents
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The role of social jetlag and stress in academic achievement among adolescents
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-88938 (URN)
Available from: 2013-04-08 Created: 2013-04-08 Last updated: 2013-04-08Bibliographically approved

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