Thesis: Examining the association between stress and physical versus psychological health and the moderating effects of coping

Alyssa’s study ¬†showed that greater perceived stress was associated with increased reporting of physical symptoms, symptoms of depression and anxiety. The most frequently reported physical symptoms were headache, sleep disturbance and cold symptoms. In student reported high levels of stress, problem-focused disengagement coping (i.e. problem avoidance and social withdrawal) was associated with greater depressive and physical symptom reporting. Use of emotion-focused engagement coping (i.e. seeking social support and emotion expression) among high stress students was associated with significantly greater anxiety. Findings indicate that when assessing the moderating effect of coping on outcome, it is important to consider the type of stress-outcome (i.e. psychological or physical). This study provides preliminary evidence that the moderating role of coping and coping subtypes, whether adaptive or not, may depend on the health outcome of interest.