Relationship between College Students' Stress and Demographic Factors

College students' perceptions of stress have been linked to depression, poor academic performance, and, in the worst instance, fatality, according to academic research. Despite the fact that stress has been linked to harmful behaviors, most college students in particular find it challenging to control their stress. In order to establish the relationship between perceived stress and demographic variables, it is important to understand how perceived stress affects college students' daily lives and levels of depression. Retrospective cross-sectional correlational analysis was employed in the study's execution to examine how perceived stress relates to both physical activity and other healthy behaviors. In addition to that, participants were college students, that is, 45 of all the 1200 college students. To carry out the research, the research took a random approach in picking the 45 students, who were then taken through survey. The college sent all participants an email that had a hyperlink where the students were to take their questionnaire. On the other hand, there were less male participants (n=20) than the female participants (25) who averaged to be 22 years. Another difference was that males had greater weight, height, and body mass index than their counterparts, females. Lastly, the study found out that there were a lot of correlations when looking at health factors and perceived stress or depression. Thus, from the study, empirical evidence was derived to suggest that there is a relationship between demographic characteristics and stress affecting college students.

Relationship between Demographic Characteristics and Stress among College Students

Stress is one of the silent diseases affecting most people in society. One of the causes of depression experienced in public is stress. Although it is a condition that can be managed, it is a contributing factor to depression. Additionally, it is worrying that there is a steady increase in the student with stress in college at a staggering 80 percent according to the latest report. The fact that stress has a detrimental effect on human health makes it a wise step to find a solution. For instance, assessing stress among college students and then, determining the role that demographic characteristics play in it so as to come up with an effective mechanism or ways that will ensure students experience less stress. Scholars have come up with three distinct categories of categorizing stress (Barry, Whiteman, & Wadsworth, 2014). According to scientific literature, there is one associated with positive feedback while the other results from negative response to stressors. The first one is a negative type of stress denoted as distress. On the other hand, there is a positive kind of stress also referred to as eustress. The former makes the body to react negatively. On the other hand, the later, that is eustress can act as a motivator in a person’s life, thus, enhance a person’s performance. In addition to that, there is a third type of stress referred to as traumatic stress. Even though it is not common as compared to the other two forms, it occurs in large number of people in society and has been documented to have greater health impact than the other forms of stress combined (Fedewa, Das, Evans, & Dishman, 2014). Moreover, the third form consists of distressful episodes that do not fall under the normal range of stressors. In extreme cases, traumatic stress may lead to extreme physical impacts, for instance, suicidal thoughts and depression necessitating either hospitalization or counseling.

Studies have shown that, most people tend to cope with stress by engaging in behaviors that are not healthy, for instance, use of drugs, smoking, and sleep deprivation or overeating. In addition to that, many of the changes of behaviors can be associated with suicidal thoughts and depression (Ibrahim, Kelly, Adams, & Glazebrook, 2013). Research further indicates that people, who are often depressed and sleepless, also smoke often and tend to take a poor diet. On the other hand, there are those who respond to stress in a positive light and instead of engaging in harmful behaviors, embrace positive habits, for instance, taking proper nutrition, engaging in physical activity and training to have positive thinking. In addition to that, one can also practice meditation, have an adequate amount of rest and seek spiritual intervention. Research shows that a person who manages stress well usually registers healthy outcome in regards to improving his or her well-being and reduced body tension. On the other hand, various stressors are common among college students, especially, because the stage of life during which a person goes to college is accompanied by nerve-racking and inconsistent (Regehr, Glancy, & Pitts, 2013). The transition stage and other factors make college study so stressful. Thus, it is worth looking at the demographic associated with the stress and the relation it has among college students.

Research Question

What can one deduce from the relationship existing between perceived stress and demographic characteristics associated with college students?

What impacts do health-related habits or behaviors have on the relationship that exists between depressions and perceive stress among college students?


There will be some impacts that behaviors associated with health have which will reconcile depression and perceived stress, in particular, among college students.

Secondly, there will be a positive change when looking at the association that exists between perceived stress and the depression common in college students.


The reason for conducting the research study was to determine how demographic characteristics influence depression for students in college. Perceived stress was the independent variable in this research and is affected by the impact that depression has on health behaviors seen on participants.


A sample of 45 college students was taken from a total of 1200, an undergraduate of the same institution. The participants were invited via email to participate in a voluntary survey done perennially for research purposes. There were also supplementary questions developed by the university board. To enable students to participate in the survey, the email contained a direction to a hyperlink where the participant could follow to access the website for the survey. In addition to that, there was the need to introduce a consent letter before the survey whose main aim was to make sure that students gave consent to the survey.

Study design

A retrospective cross-sectional correlational was applied to evaluate correlations between physical activity, perceived stress and various demographic characteristics on stress experienced by Students. The data collected was analyzed based on demographic characteristics

Data Collection

To determine what the questionnaire will entail, demographic questions elaborating on the characteristics of the subject and which put more emphasis on the purpose of the research was used. Perceived stress in this research acted as an independent variable denoted in the survey as, “In the past one year, how would you measure the stress you have experienced? Average stress, tremendous stress, no stress and higher than average stress. “In addition to that, there were also health behaviors which acted as mediating factors, for instance: exercise, tobacco or substance use, alcohol and vegetable and fruit intake. In response to the survey, the participants had to be grouped and categorized considering these aspects to prepare for an examination. In addition to that, the data collected from the questionnaire used had a wide range of questions relating to health. However, only categories that were relevant to the specific aims in which the study was conducted were used. In particular, the categories included substance use, eating habits, health behaviors, mental health and physical activity tendency, weight and even coping. On the other hand, there was a supplementary questionnaire to students attending the College that was used in addition to the ones used to all the participants.


The research was a respective cross-sectional correlation-type that aimed at examining the relationship that demographic characteristics appear to have on stress among college students. Additionally, the study was meant to determine the influence it has on health behaviors as far as the two relationships consisted above exist. The email was sent to various demographic groups and this note in the survey. Moreover, a survey of the 45 students was taken and transformed into what could be meaningful in describing a research. For instance, the height measured was recorded as inches, and it is from the height measurement that was used to measure body mass index (BMI) when putting together with the weight that was recorded from all participants. In addition to that, data used was put into categories, and the different groups were based on the question that the survey intended to achieve and all other information that was considered not to be useful to the research was not included in the final data. In addition to that, in recording data, it was based on ascending order, basing on the responses that the people were on the survey, that is, characteristics, height, behaviors, and traits. There was also, extreme and missing values in the data and were removed for they could affect the research. There was also further classification of the groups, where the first one was denoted as real depression in participants who were treated for having depression while the other consisted of perceived depression for participants who felt depressed, hopeless suicidal and sad.

Demographic Characteristics

All the participants comprised of 20 men and 25 women who made an average of 22 years old. The figure is illustrative of the number of women that exceeded men in the study. In this research, participants who were more than 25 years were deliberately excluded from the study or were not students of the College. As can be seen in the table below, the mean height was 63 inches while the mean weight made up 145 pounds. Although there were more females than males, height, weight, and BMI was higher in males than it was in females. According to the participant that took part in the study, 20 percent of them said they were in the first year, while those that reported being in the third year were close to 30 percent. In the case of those that were in the fourth year, the figure was 10.5 percent. About 66.5 percent, who comprised the majority of all participants described themselves as white. On the other hand, Blacks or Indians comprised of 1.5 percent while Hispanic and Mixed race comprised 10 and 9 percent respectively.

Also, it is worth noting that half of the population represented a group that described themselves as not in a relationship, representing 49.6 percent. There were also those that were in a relationship and living together which represented 15.2 percent. Another thing is that more males than females were in an intimate relationship and their number increased significantly when taking note of those who were living with their partners. There were also those that reported being married at 6.5 percent. In addition to that, some were on campus, representing 26 percent, 25.8 percent were those living with their guardian while 45 percent made up the college students that lived off-campus.

According to the information reported, the participants classified under perceived stress tended to have a lot of stress resulting from academic responsibilities. Other causes of stress reported were career, intimate relationship, and financial issues. In addition to that, they also said to have sleep difficulties and had less sleep. Also, lower physical activity, smoking, and thinking and use of substances were other traits identified with people with perceived stress.

Demographic Characteristics, Males and Females








Males (%)







Females (%)







Intimate Relationship

In relationship

Not living together but in a relationship.

Living together and in a relationship








On Campus Hall

On Campus Hostel

Parent/ Guardian










Correlation Analysis

According to the research, there is a significantly high correlation between nutrition habits, prescription misuse, the state of living and diet. However, the highest degree of stress was registered among those who tried to have suicidal thoughts. Another correlation that was expected was that physical activity and sports recorded a weak association with perceived sports.

Discussion and Conclusion

The main reason for conducting the study was to come up with research that details the relationship that demographic characteristics have on stress or perceived stress among college students. Thus, the study hypothesized that there would be such a relationship that may influence behaviors and other daily activities college students to engage. As far as demographic characteristics are concerned, the age used was not far from what other studies have used before, for instance, other studies have used an age range of 18-25 years. The studies also used samples that consisted of both females and males. Another demographic feature that was used and other studies have applied the same ethnicity, in particular, they have included White, Indian, Asian and Blacks (Sidana et al., 2012). Majority of other studies have demonstrated that a majority of campus students living on-campus preferred to live in residence hall. The main thing that the research established was that demographic characteristics were important features to determine stress that college students experience. On the other hand, the limitation of the research was that it used small sample size making it difficult to be used to come up with a meaningful conclusion.


Barry, A. E., Whiteman, S. D., & Wadsworth, S. M. (2014). Student service members/veterans in higher education: A systematic review. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 51(1), 30-42.

Fedewa, M. V., Das, B. M., Evans, E. M., & Dishman, R. K. (2014). Change in weight and adiposity in college students: a systematic review and meta-analysis. American journal of preventive medicine, 47(5), 641-652.

Ibrahim, A. K., Kelly, S. J., Adams, C. E., & Glazebrook, C. (2013). A systematic review of studies of depression prevalence in university students. Journal of psychiatric research, 47(3), 391-400.

Regehr, C., Glancy, D., & Pitts, A. (2013). Interventions to reduce stress in university students: A review and meta-analysis. Journal of affective disorders, 148(1), 1-11.

Sidana, S., Kishore, J., Ghosh, V., Gulati, D., Jiloha, R. C., & Anand, T. (2012). Prevalence of depression in students of a medical college in New Delhi: a cross-sectional study. The Australasian medical journal, 5(5), 247.

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