Published Papers - Abstract 150

Bell S & Lee C. Perceived stress revisited: The Women's Health Australia project young cohort. Psychology, Health and Medicine, 2003; 8(3): 343-353

The Perceived Stress Questionnaire for Young Women (PSQYW) was assessed for internal reliability and validity, for longitudinal changes, and for relationships with health and health behaviours. Participants in the Young cohort of the Women's Health Australia project completed the questionnaire as part of a wide-ranging survey on health and well-being in both 1996 and 2000. The 9683 women were aged between 18 and 23 years at Survey 1, and 22 and 27 years at Survey 2. The PSQYW was shown to have reproducible internal reliability and validity. Overall stress levels increased across the 4 years. For individual items the largest increase in stress was in the life domain of relationship with partner/spouse, whilst the largest decrease was in the life domain of study. Higher levels of stress were associated with current smoking, and weekly alcohol bingeing. Of the health outcomes, mental health was found to have the strongest relationship with stress, with a measure of symptoms contributing some unique explanation, and physical health having only a minimal relationship. As this cohort is in the midst of the transition to adulthood future research should include the contextual factor of life course position, with another key area for future research being the causal relationship between stress and health over time.