A new short self-rating questionnaire to assess stress in children
- Cite this article as:
- Osika, W., Friberg, P. & Wahrborg, P. Int. J. Behav. Med. (2007) 14: 108. doi:10.1007/BF03004176
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We constructed a test to assess stress in children and compared it with established
measures of depression, anxiety, anger, disruptive behavior, and negative self-perception. A total of 181 children aged between 9 and 12 years were enrolled at various stages of the construction of a new short questionnaire; Stress in Children (SiC). Baseline data, completed questionnaires, salivary cortisol (SC) five times during (1 day), and 24-h urinary catecholamines were collected during an ordinary school week. The SiCwas validated using the Beck Youth Inventories of Emotional and Social Impairment (BYI). Associations with self-reported psychosomatic symptoms for urinary catecholamines and cortisol concentrations were assessed. Cronbach’s á used in this study for the entire SiC questionnaire is 0.86. Statistically significant associations were found between the SiC Global Mean Score (GMS) and all of the five BYI subscales. Spearman’s rho coefficient for the association of SiC GMS with the first SC sample is 0.30 (p = 0.01). When stratified by sex, the magnitude of the association between SC and SiC was higher in girls, while there was no significant association among boys. No significant associations with catecholamine levels were observed for self-rating scores from the SiC or BYI. This study demonstrated that the SiC questionnaire has satisfactory reliability and its ratings are associated with those generated by the BYI. The SiC GMS was associated with higher morning saliva cortisol in girls. Our results demonstrate that it is possible to screen for stress in schoolchildren using an easily administered self-rating instrument.