Stress Management and Health Promotion Behaviours in Young Men in Tertiary Education Settings

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Moonmuang, Nikom (2005) Stress Management and Health Promotion Behaviours in Young Men in Tertiary Education Settings. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The concept of stress has been identified as being a major protagonist of ill health and poor sense of wellbeing amongst all ages groups. For example stress has been identified as being a strong correlate of anxiety and school refusal in primary aged children; depression, suicidal ideation and physical malaise in adolescents and poor general health (i.e., colds, headaches, pain and sensitivity, depression, suicidal ideation, cardiac events, stroke etc.) in older groups. One group which has been identified as being particularly vulnerable to high levels of stress is male tertiary students. The identified increase in stress amongst this population has been purportedly associated to the ever increasing demands and extra pressures that are placed on young men in relation to tertiary education. The purpose of this study was to test the relationships among stress and specificity of academic concerns amongst tertiary males. The current study sought to elucidate what were the particular avenues of concern which resulted in high levels of stress amongst these young men. Moreover, in order to extrapolate information on how best to address stress related concerns amongst these young men, a secondary purpose of the study was to examine the health-promoting behaviors utilized by young men, and identify areas which may be pertinent to future educational and clinical intervention and health promotion programs. The participants for this study comprised a cohort of 226 male students from four universities in Melbourne. The theoretical framework for this study was Pender's health-promotion model and Lazarus' stress adaptation model. Instrumentation included the Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile II (HPLP II) and the Daily Stress Inventory (DSI). Only two demographic factors, nationality and language spoken at home, were found to differentiate between levels of stress and impact. Students from non-Australian backgrounds and non-English speaking homes were found to report significantly more stress events in their daily lives. They were also found to report these events had a higher impact on them than Australian and English speaking students. Male students in the current study were also found to report a higher level of stressful events and greater sense of impact comparable to the normative data. The major factors identified by these young men were varied stressors and environmental hassles. Whilst issues such as academic stress associated with specific academic issues examinations and assessment were cited as sources of stress, these students also indicated that many sources of stress were also related to self imposed or other influenced pressures such as pressure to succeed, future career concerns, frustration over services, status and financial concerns were also major sources of stress which impacted on them strongly. Analysis indicated that there are two factors related to health-promoting behaviors namely cognitive/emotional and physical health-promoting behaviors. The results also indicated that there was an inverse relationship between increases in the reported experience of stress and health-promoting behaviors, such that those young men who engaged in positive health-promoting behaviors, such as exercise, good nutrition, expression of emotions and social collaboration, were less likely to report a high incidence of impact from sources of stress. Of particular importance, a small proportion of students who reported higher impact of stress also reported having engaged in suicidal ideation. Interestingly, a majority of the stresses reported by students were not specific to academic life; rather they emanated from interpersonal dysfunction, specifically familial disruption and intimate relationship breakdown. Similarly, several behavioral methods identified as coping mechanisms, such as alcohol use, cigarette smoking and drug ingestion, by these young men, whilst considered normative behavior, are in-fact contributing to their current identified stressful experiences. The outcomes of the current study indicate that whilst attention needs to be placed on the promotion of study and academic related skills, young men require additional educational and social support in developing health promotion behaviors which are not deleterious, such as good nutrition, exercise, communication, and interpersonal skills. Ideologically the emphasis should be placed on prevention where possible, however the outcomes of the current study indicate that the majority of these issues are not specific to the individual but require a broader application of health promotion behavior across the community. Ongoing counseling throughout the education years is desirable, as are various programs, which address student concerns in relation to their tertiary studies. Similarly, more public health promotion is required in order to address specific issues related to interpersonal, gendered and in particular familial issues, which appear to be a major source of stress for these young men.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 220000 Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts-General
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords stress management; health promotion; young men; tertiary education
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