Psychoendocrine validation of a short measure for assessment of perceived stress management skills in different non-clinical populations

Petra H. Wirtz*, Livia Thomas, Gregor Domes, Frank J. Penedo, Ulrike Ehlert, Fridtjof W. Nussbeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: We investigated the psychometric properties of a short questionnaire for combined assessment of different perceived stress management skills in the general population and tested whether scores relate to physiological stress reactivity. Methods: For psychometric evaluation, we determined the factor structure of the questionnaire and investigated its measurement invariance in the participant groups and over time in three different independent samples representing the general population (total N=332). Reliability was tested by estimating test-retest reliability, internal consistency, and item reliabilities. We examined convergent and criterion validity using selected criterion variables. For endocrine validation, 35 healthy non-smoking and medication-free men in a laboratory study and 35 male and female employees in a workplace study underwent an acute standardized psychosocial stress task. We assessed stress management skills and measured salivary cortisol before and several times up to 60. min (workplace study) and 120. min (laboratory study) after stress. Potential confounders were controlled. Results: The factor structure of the questionnaire consists of five scales reflecting acceptably distinct stress management skills such as cognitive strategies, use of social support, relaxation strategies, anger regulation, and perception of bodily tension. This factor structure was stable across participant groups and over time. Internal consistencies, item reliabilities, and test-retest reliabilities met established statistical requirements. Convergent and criterion validity were also established. In both endocrine validation studies, higher stress management skills were independently associated with lower cortisol stress reactivity (p's<.029). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the questionnaire has good psychometric properties and that it relates to subjective psychological and objective physiological stress indicators. Therefore, the instrument seems a suitable measure for differential assessment of stress management skills in the general population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-586
Number of pages15
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2013

Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Questionnaire
  • Stress management skills
  • TSST
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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