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Journal of Georgia Public Health Association


Background: Stress is part of the college experience; however, how students deal with stress can greatly impact their behaviors and health status. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to qualitatively assess sources of stress, types of stressors, and coping mechanisms employed among undergraduate students.

Methods: Nominal group process was utilized to obtain information related to study variables and help prioritize the accounts provided by study participants (n = 173).

Results: Participants gave insight into the unique stress faced by this generation (grades, GPA, multitasking, parental expectations), stress symptoms (more psychological in nature), and coping strategies (prayer, talking to mom, surfing the net, and social networking). The top stressors included: schoolwork, money, time management, parents, and friends. Moodiness/irritability, anxiety, and sleep problems were the highest-ranked symptoms of stress cited by study participants. The three most-reported coping mechanisms were: working out, prayer, and talking to mom.

Conclusions: Although the themes of stressors, symptoms, and coping mechanisms for college students might not have changed through the years, the sources that underlie these themes have changed as compared to past generations.


©Helen Bland, Bridget Melton, and Stephen Gonzalez 2010. Originally published in jGPHA ( This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivatives License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work ("first published in the Journal of the Georgia Public Health Association…") is properly cited with original URL and bibliographic citation information.