New Publication: Exploring pandemic-related stress in young adults

Updated: Jun 25

A recent publication by Thibault et al. (2022) using UniVenture data validates an efficient measure of COVID-19 stress in youth and identifies variability in pandemic-related stress across UniVenture sites.


Overview

As the constraints of the pandemic loosen, researchers continue to investigate the impacts of such an unprecedented stressful period on young adults. Research on young adults presents a great opportunity to understand how stress influences people at a time when they are still undergoing major development and life changes. However, this population often has many things on their plate, so presenting them with long surveys creates a recipe for survey fatigue and response bias.

New research used UniVenture data to adapt an efficient and effective scale for measuring pandemic related stress in young adults and examined pandemic-related stress scores. The brief, yet effective scale will help to maximize response rates and shorten long surveys used in research on pandemic-related stress in young adults. In addition, the scale responses across UniVenture sites differ, suggesting that varying provincial case rates and guidelines could play a role in the nature and intensity of COVID-19-related distress experienced by young adults.

Behind the Scale

This new scale was adapted from Taylor et al.’s (2020) COVID-19 Stress Scale (or CSS) which is a 33-item scale that measures five main factors or dimensions of COVID-19 Stress:

  1. COVID danger and contamination fears

  2. COVID fears about economic consequences

  3. COVID xenophobia

  4. COVID compulsive checking and reassurance seeking

  5. COVID traumatic stress

UniVenture researchers shortened the original CSS into the CSS-B (COVID-19 Stress Scale - Brief): an 18-item measure which was tested using the UniVenture participant sample. Data shows that the scale's psychometric properties were maintained across each of the five UniVenture sites and that the scale accurately represents the five original factors of pandemic-related stress, providing evidence that the CSS-B offers a valid & reliable alternative measure for COVID-19 stress in young adults (Thibault et al., 2022).

Other Interesting Findings

While the scale’s structure was upheld across the five different UniVenture sites, each site differed on average scores for COVID-19 stress in general and the five covid-related stress dimensions (Thibault et al., 2022). Researchers found that variability in COVID-19 related stress and stress dimensions across sites were consistent with their respective COVID-19 provincial infection rates (Thibault et al., 2022). Therefore, researchers suggested that provincial differences in public health guidelines and COVID-19 case rates may explain the differences in pandemic-related stress that young adults experience.

This study generates opportunities for future exploration and research on factors that influence pandemic-related stress in young adults, and most importantly, validates a new scale that will make this research much more efficient for both researchers and young adult participants.

References:

Taylor, S., Landry, C. A., Paluszek, M. M., Fergus, T. A., McKay, D., & Asmundson, G. J. G. (2020). Development and initial validation of the COVID Stress Scales. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 72, 102232. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2020.102232

​​Thibault, T., Thompson, K., Keough, M., Krank, M., Conrod, P., Moore, M., & Stewart, S. H. (2022). Psychometric Properties of a Brief Version of the COVID‐19 Stress Scales (CSS‐B) in Young Adult Undergraduates. Stress and Health. https://doi.org/10.1002/smi.3175