Stress and Coping Among Students: Functional and Dysfunctional Strategies and Further Influencing Factors

by Bettina Frost & Katja Mierke

N = 1.014 students filled in a questionnaire assessing subjective stress experience (AVEM-44, Schaarschmidt & Fischer, 2008), reliance on coping strategies (Brief-COPE, Carver, 1997), proactive coping (Greenglass, Schwarzer, Jakubiec, Fiksenbaum, & Taubert, 1999) and further potential influencing variables (self-efficacy, internal control, gender, age and term). Cluster analyses revealed three patterns of study-related stress experiencing, two of which can be considered as health-promoting and one as a high-risk-pattern. Coping strategies load on two components corresponding to established classifications into functional and dysfunctional ones. This differentiation is supported by increased reliance on dysfunctional strategies by participants showing a risk-pattern, and by increased reliance on functional strategies by those showing health-promoting patterns of stress experience. Moreover, students that exhibit a health-promoting pattern yield higher values in self-efficacy and internal control. Taken together, the study demonstrates three clearly distinguishable patters of stress experiencing among students and allows deriving measures of prevention and intervention on different levels.

Key Words: stress, coping, self-efficacy, locus of control

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