Home | About IPJ | Editorial board | Ahead of print | Current Issue | Archives | Instructions | Contact us |   Login 
Industrial Psychiatry Journal
Search Articles   
    
Advanced search   
 


 
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 98-102  Table of Contents     

Stress: Prevalence and correlates among residents of a suburban area


Department of Community Medicine, Army College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission30-Apr-2018
Date of Acceptance20-Sep-2019
Date of Web Publication11-Dec-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Manisha Arora
Department of Community Medicine, Army College of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
India
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ipj.ipj_33_18

Rights and Permissions
   Abstract 


Background and Objectives: Stress is a major concern in the present scenario as it is occurring in a big way involving all age groups. The objectives of this study were estimating the prevalence of stress, assessing the associated stress factors, and symptoms of stress among residents of suburban community. Materials and Methods: The community-based cross-sectional study was conducted in a suburban area in Delhi from June to August 2017. Adults and children aged 14 years and above permanently residing (1 year or more) in the area were included in the study. A sample size of 384 was calculated with the alpha error set to 05% and absolute error 05%, and to cater for refusals, a total of 400 participants were approached. A structured questionnaire was used for the study by interview method. To estimate the prevalence of stress, a standardized scale, depression, anxiety, and stress scale 21 was used. Results: The mean age of the participants in the study was 36.31 (±15.10), with 51.2% of males and 48.8% of females. Among the children, the leading factors associated with stress were studies (41.2%), poverty (22.1%), and competitions (16.2%). Among the adults, the leading factors were financial problems (35.2%) and children's studies (23.1%). The most common reported somatic symptom during stress was headache (59.8%) and psychological symptom was “unable to sleep” (47.5%). The prevalence of stress was 26% in a subset of sample in this study. There was a statistically significant association of stress with family size, the level of stress decreased with an increase in family size. Conclusion: The study emphasizes the need for effective prevention and management of stress in the community and schools.

Keywords: Adults, children, psychological, somatic, stress


How to cite this article:
Singh A, Arora M, Sharma V, Kotwal A. Stress: Prevalence and correlates among residents of a suburban area. Ind Psychiatry J 2019;28:98-102

How to cite this URL:
Singh A, Arora M, Sharma V, Kotwal A. Stress: Prevalence and correlates among residents of a suburban area. Ind Psychiatry J [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Feb 27];28:98-102. Available from: http://www.industrialpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2019/28/1/98/272688



Stress is a major concern of the modern era. It has been dubbed as “the health epidemic of the 21st century' by the WHO.[1] The term “stress” was derived from the Latin word “stringere,” meaning the experience of physical hardship, starvation, torture, and pain. Selye who coined it in 1936, defined it as a “nonspecific response of the body to any demand for change.”[2]

Acute responses to stress may be in the areas of feelings (anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue), behavior (withdrawn, aggressive, tearful, unmotivated), and thinking (difficulties of concentration and problem solving) or physical symptoms (palpitations, nausea, and headaches).[3] Persistent stress might lead to changes in neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, autonomic, and immunological functioning, leading to mental and physical ill-health (anxiety, depression, heart disease, etc.).[3]

Previous studies on stress across the world have shown the prevalence and sources of stress to vary according to age[4] and gender.[4],[5] A study in Delhi showed stress due to studies and examinations as reported by 71% of the school-going children.[6] Social and environmental factors also have an influence on stress levels. Low socioeconomic status (SES) is generally associated with distress, prevalence of mental health problems, and with health-impairing behaviors that are also related to stress.[7]

The present study was planned in a suburban area of Delhi with the objectives of estimating the prevalence of stress among suburban community, assessing the associated stress factors and symptoms of stress among families of the suburban community. The aim of this study was to accumulate evidence regarding stressors.


   Materials and Methods Top


Study setting

The present community-based cross-sectional study was conducted in Nangal, Delhi Cantt, the urban field practice area of Department of Community Medicine, ACMS, from June to August 2017.

Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Adults and children aged 14 years and above permanently residing (1 year or more) in the geographic area of Nangal were included in the study. Migrant population visiting their friends and relatives residing in this area >1 year) were excluded from the study.

Sample size

Since prevalence estimates of stressors in this community were not available, a hypothetical maximum prevalence of 50% was taken for this study. A sample size of 384 was calculated with alpha error set to 05% and absolute error 05%, and to cater to any refusal, a total of 400 participants were approached.

Data collection

A structured questionnaire was used for the study. A pilot study of 40 participants (10% of the proposed sample size) in the community was conducted to pretest the questionnaire, and necessary modifications were done. The major domains of the final questionnaire were: socio-demographic profile; factors leading to stress; symptoms; and response to stress. In addition, to estimate the prevalence of stress, a standardized scale, depression, anxiety, and stress scale (DASS 21) was used on a subset of sample. A total of 107 participants who were above the age of 45 years were offered to be part of this study. Of these, 100 participants agreed to respond to the DASS 21.

The DASS[8] is a 42-item self-report instrument developed by Lovibond and Lovibond. It is designed to measure the three-related negative emotional states of depression (D), anxiety (A), and stress (S). Scores for D, A, and S are calculated by summing the scores for the relevant items. In addition to the basic 42-item questionnaire, a short version, the DASS 21, is available with 7 items per scale[9] which was used in this study. The obtained score for each scale are multiplied by 2, to make them comparable to the full DASS score. The stress scale was utilized for this study. The severity rating for this scale is normal – 0–14, mild – 15–18, moderate – 19–25, severe – 26–33, and extremely severe – 34+. The reliability and validity of DASS 21 in measuring symptoms of D, A, and S have been well proven in previous studies.[10]

Higher DASS scores for stress required further assessment, thus those participants with higher scores on the DASS were referred for professional help. A trained medico-social worker from the Department of Community Medicine, ACMS conducted the survey by door-to-door visit in the field, after appropriate training and observation. The pretested structured questionnaire was administered using the interview method. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Ethics Committee before conduct of this study.

Statistical analysis

The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (version 22 IBM Corp) was used for data analysis. Data were presented as frequencies (percentage). The Chi-square test was used to test the association of stress with sociodemographic factors. A value of P < 0.05 was considered as statistically significant.


   Results Top


The age of the participants ranged from 14 to 79 years, median-32, mean standard deviation - 36.31 ± 15.10, with 205 (51.2%) males and 195 (48.8%) females. About 67.5% were married and predominantly belonged to Hindus (94.2%) community with 3.3% Muslims. More than half of the participants belonged to a nuclear family (57.3%) and 48.8% of them belonged to lower SES (modified Kuppuswamy scale).[11] Among the participants, 11% consumed alcohol and 10.8% were smokers [Table 1].
Table 1: Sociodemographic profile of the participants

Click here to view


The meaning of stress varied as 38.8% considered it to be mental tension. The opinion regarding stress and frequency of feeling stressed is in [Table 2]. To assess the stress factors, participants were stratified into children (14–<18 years) and adults (≥18 years). Among the children, the leading factors associated with stress were studies (41.2%), poverty (22.1%) and competitions (16.2%) [Table 3]. Among the adults, the leading factors for their stress were financial problems (35.2%) and children's studies (23.1%) as per [Table 4].
Table 2: Opinion and frequency of stress

Click here to view
Table 3: Stress factors among children (age <18 years)

Click here to view
Table 4: Stress factors among adult (age≥18 years)

Click here to view


The symptoms experienced by the participants during stress were categorized into somatic and psychological and shown in [Table 5].
Table 5: Symptoms (feeling) during stress

Click here to view


DASS 21, according to the scale, 26% (95% confidence interval, 17.74, 35.73) participants were found to be stressed (mild – 9, moderate – 13, and severe – 4). For the purpose of analysis, the participants were grouped into “normal” and “stressed.” There was a statistically significant association of stress with family size, those with a small family size of <4 members were more stressed than family size more than four (P = 0.017) [Table 6].
Table 6: Association of sociodemographic factors with stress (n=100)

Click here to view



   Discussion Top


More than half the participants described stress as a “mental tension” or a “bad thing, whereas only 2% considered it to be a good thing or a motivator.

In the current times, children are also vulnerable to stress as are the adults. The study revealed that major stressors among children were studies (41.2%) and competition (16.2%). This is similar to the Delhi study where stress due to studies and examinations were reported by 71% of the school-going children.[6] A study done in Greater Noida, UP among adolescent students belonging to affluent families found significantly higher DASS in students who had low academic marks in their last school exam.[12] According to a study on middle school-going adolescents in Los Angeles,[13] greatest stress was school related to school stressors being reported with the highest frequency.

Financial problems (35.2%) emerged as the major stressors for the adults in our study. A similar community-based study from Malaysia reported financial crisis (24.1%) as a major stressor besides family problems (25.2%).[14] However according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report, job stress in American industries among workers is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems this may be due to our study population is mixed as all are not employed.[15]

Stress over the child's academic performance (23.1%), was the other major stressor among adults. In today's competitive environment, parent's desire their children to excel in studies and consequently tend to worry over their academic performance. It was worthwhile to note that stress due to relationship problems with in-laws was not an important factor found in our study, as is believed in our society. In our study, stress due to workplace problems was less (7.5%) as compared to other studies for example in NIOSH[15] report where 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful and 25% view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives, this difference may be due to the fact that our study population was mixed and not all the persons in the study were working. Further we also found that stress due to problems related to basic amenities were also a major factor as it was mentioned by 7.8% of respondents as number one cause of their stress.

Headache was the most common somatic symptom reported by the participants (59.8%) in our study. Studies conducted in India on occupational stress among nurses revealed that somatic symptoms positively correlated with stress perception.[16],[17] According to NIOSH report, 13% worker believes that their headache is due to occupational pressure.[15] Among psychological symptoms, nearly half of the participants (47.5%) reported inability to sleep during stress. In a nationwide study conducted among adult Americans,[18] for nearly half of Americans (45%) lying awake at night for past 1 month was one stress outcome. “Problems with sleeping when worried” was a common symptom reported in studies conducted among medical students from Agartala in India (25.3%)[19] and a university in Malaysia (71%).[20] Sleep problem manifesting as a symptom may worsen the negative state of stress.

Overall, the prevalence of stress was found to be 26% in a subset of the sample. Of the 83 adults, 22 (26.5%) were suffering from stress. Higher percentage that is around 59% of stress were reported from a Sweden study among adults seeking primary care.[21] Of the adolescents, 4 (23.5%) of 17 were suffering from stress in our study. In the Delhi study, 87.6% school going students were positive for stress.[6]

The number of family members played a significant role on stress in our study, with The higher level of stress decreasing with increase in family members. The increased size of family has possibly acted as a buffer against various stressors in the family due to shared roles and support of the family members. The family constitutes an important source of “social support” which has been described as”A network of family, friends, neighbors, and community members that is available in times of need to give psychological, physical, and financial help” (www.cancer.gov). Social support may moderate genetic and environmental vulnerabilities and confer resilience to stress, possibly through its effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical system, the noradrenergic system, and central oxytocin pathways.[22] On the contrary, a study from Korea observed the level of stress increased with increase in family members for the women. For men, the association of family members was not significant.[23]

In our study, stress was not found associated with age, gender, and SES of the participants. However in the America[18] and Sweden study,[21] women have reported higher stress than men. As with our study, there was no indication that experience of stress was related to age, in the Sweden study. It was partly explained in that study by the fact that all participants experienced a health problem, a stress exposure in itself.


   Conclusion Top


Major stressor among children was studies and competition and among adults were financial problems and stress over children's study. Headache was the most common somatic symptom and “problems with sleep,” the most common psychological symptom, reported when experiencing stress. The prevalence of stress was 26% in a subset of sample. The level of stress decreased with an increase in family members. The study emphasizes the need for effective prevention and management of stress in the community and schools.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
   References Top

1.
Stress: The Health Epidemic of the 21st Century. SciTech Connect; 2016. Available from: http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/stress-health-epidemic-21st-century/. [Last accessed on 2017 May 27].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Selye H. The Stress of Life. New York: McGraw Hill; 1956.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Michie S. Causes and management of stress at work. Occup Environ Med 2002;59:67-72.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Bergdahl J, Bergdahl M. Perceived stress in adults: Prevalence and association of depression, anxiety and medication in a Swedish population. Stress Health 2002;18:235-41.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Mataud MP. Gender differences in stress and coping styles. Pers Individ Difffer 2004;37:1401-15.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Watode BK, Kishore J, Kohli C. Prevalence of stress among school adolescents in Delhi. Ind J Youth Adolesc Health 2015;2:4-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Baum A, Garofalo JP, Yali AM. Socioeconomic status and chronic stress. Does stress account for SES effects on health? Ann N Y Acad Sci 1999;896:131-44.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Lovibond SH, Lovibond PF. Manual for the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales. 2nd ed. Sydney: Psychology Foundation; 1995.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Lovibond SH, Lovibond PF. Depression Anxiety Stress Scale -21 (DASS-21). Available from: http://www2.psy.unsw.edu.au/dass/. [Last accessed on 2017 Jan 10].  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS). Psychology Foundation of Australia. DASS Publications. Available from: http://www2.psy.unsw.edu.au/dass/. [Last accessed on 2017 Jan 10].  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Tabassum N, Rao RL. An updated Kuppuswamy's socio-economic classification for 2017. Int J Health Sci Res 2017;7:365-7.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Bhasin SK, Sharma R, Saini NK. Depression, anxiety and stress among adolescent students belonging to affluent families: A school-based study. Indian J Pediatr 2010;77:161-5.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Anda DD, Bradley M, Collada C, Dunn L, Kubota J, Hollister V, et al. A study of stress, stressors, coping strategies among middle school adolescents. Child Sch 1997;19:87-98.  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Amirah Shahirah M, Chut Kartika B, Gaushinee V, Mohd Amirul Adli M, Lily Alma Nadirah AJ, Muhammad Abdullah MS, et al. Prevalence of stress and coping skills in the community of Taman Sri Sungai Pelek, Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia. Int J Health Sci Res 2016;6:32-5.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Stress At Work; 1999. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/. [Last accessed on 2018 Mar 29].  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Gandhi S, Sangeetha G, Ahmed N, Chaturvedi SK. Somatic symptoms, perceived stress and perceived job satisfaction among nurses working in an Indian psychiatric hospital. Asian J Psychiatr 2014;12:77-81.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Chaudhari AP, Mazumdar K, Motwani YM, Ramadas D. A profile of occupational stress in nurses. Ann Indian Pychiatry 2018;2:109-14.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
18.
Stress in America: State of Our Nation; 2017. Available from: http;//www.apa.org. [Last accessed on 2018 Mar 20].  Back to cited text no. 18
    
19.
Reang T, Bhattacharjya H. A study to assess the emotional disorders with special reference to stress of medical students of Agartala government medical college and Govinda Ballabh pant hospital. Indian J Community Med 2013;38:207-11.  Back to cited text no. 19
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
20.
Sherina MS, Rampal L, Kaneson N. Psychological stress among undergraduate medical students. Med J Malaysia 2004;59:207-11.  Back to cited text no. 20
    
21.
Wiegner L, Hange D, Björkelund C, Ahlborg G Jr. Prevalence of perceived stress and associations to symptoms of exhaustion, depression and anxiety in a working age population seeking primary care – An observational study. BMC Fam Pract 2015;16:38.  Back to cited text no. 21
    
22.
Ozbay F, Johnson DC, Dimoulas E, Morgan CA, Charney D, Southwick S. Social support and resilience to stress: From neurobiology to clinical practice. Psychiatry (Edgmont) 2007;4:35-40.  Back to cited text no. 22
    
23.
Nam JH, Lim MS, Choi HK, Kim JY, Kim SK, Oh SS. Factors increasing the risk for psychosocial stress among Korean adults living in rural areas: Using generalized estimating equations and mixed models. Ann Occup Environ Med 2017;29:53.  Back to cited text no. 23
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]



 

Top
  
 
  Search
 
  
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

 
  In this article
    Abstract
    Materials and Me...
   Results
   Discussion
   Conclusion
    References
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed203    
    Printed15    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded6    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal