UBC Undergraduate Research

Coping Mechanisms and Stress in a University Population Buch, James Andrew


Increased levels of stress, which are often common in university students, lead to variety of health consequences and coping behaviours. These coping behaviours can have either positive or negative effects. The participants were 204 university students obtained through canvassing classrooms and the Psychology Department’s volunteer participant program. A number of different coping mechanisms were examined. The relationships between stress level and alcohol,drug use, sexual behaviours, and high-risk sexual behaviours are considered. The use of problem-oriented coping strategies, such as seeking advice from professors and/or counselors, were also examined since these are generally viewed as having positive effects on stress level. It was expected that as stress increased so would the likelihood of participants using sexual behaviours as coping mechanisms. It was hypothesized that participants who used alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms would be more likely to use sexual coping behaviours, especially those involving higher risk sexual behaviours. Significant correlations (α = .05) were found between stress level, marijuana use, and several measures of sexual behaviour. Significant negative correlations were found between stress level and problem-oriented coping, r = -.24, p = .001. As well, significant correlations were found between stress and sexual coping behaviours, between r =.14 and r =.20. Finally, getting drunk was indeed found to correlate significantly with risky sexual behaviour, r = .16, p = .023.

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