Associations between Academic Stressors, Reaction to Stress, Coping Strategies and Musculoskeletal Disorders among College Students
AbstractBackground: The adverse health effects of stress are enormous, and vary among people, probably because of differences in how stress is appraised and the strategies individuals use to cope with it. This study assessed the association between academic stress and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among 1365 undergraduates.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study conducted in a Nigerian university at the beginning of the 2010/2011 academic session with the same group of participants. The Life Stress Assessment Inventory, Coping Strategies Questionnaire, and Short Musculoskeletal Function Assessment were administered as tools of data gathering.
Results: Students’ stress level and associated MSDs were higher during the examination period than the pre-examination periods. Stressors were significantly associated with increased risk of MSDs in both sexes were those related to changes (odds ratio (OR) = 1.7, p = 0.002) and pressures (OR = 2.09, p = 0.001). Emotional and physiological reactions to stress were significantly associated with MSDs in both sexes, with higher odds for MSDs in females, whereas cognitive and behavioral reactions showed higher odds (though non-significant) in males. The risk of MSDs was higher in respondents who adopted avoidance and religious coping strategies compared with those who adopted active practical and distracting coping strategies.
Conclusions: Stress among students could be significantly associated with MSDs depending on individuals’ demographics, stressors, reactions to stress, and coping methods. Interventions to reduce stress-induced MSDs among students should consider these factors among others.
Keywords: Academic stressors, Coping strategies, Musculoskeletal disorders