The Cohen Perceived Stress Index

It has been said, "The world needs more love and less paperwork."  

We agree.  So RHINOS use the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale because it is simple, quick, and accurate for measuring someone's recent stress levels.  It is important to know how much stress is affecting our lives, as stress has been implicated to cause or exacerbate nearly every negative condition known to man.  And regardless of what happens to a person, it is how it affects that person that matters.  

A particular event may be very stressful to one person but make another more peaceful and appreciative.  The key is to be very honest with yourself and with us so we can be of the greatest help to you.  Often people who are stressed are not just causing their own demise, but are harming their relationships and their family members with their tension and their stressed-out  behaviors.  Give that some thought:  do you act stressed a lot?  How often do you laugh with your loved ones?  This test gives us some insight...

The following is from and Sheldon Cohen:


Sheldon Cohen

The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is the most widely used psychological instrument for measuring the perception of stress. It is a measure of the degree to which situations in one’s life are appraised as stressful. Items were designed to tap how unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overloaded respondents find their lives. The scale also includes a number of direct queries about current levels of experienced stress. The PSS was designed for use in community samples with at least a junior high school education. The items are easy to understand, and the response alternatives are simple to grasp. Moreover, the questions are of a general nature and hence are relatively free of content specific to any subpopulation group. The questions in the PSS ask about feelings and thoughts during the last month. In each case, respondents are asked how often they felt a certain way.

Evidence for Validity: Higher PSS scores were associated with (for example):
- failure to quit smoking
- failure among diabetics to control blood sugar levels
- greater vulnerability to stressful life-event-elicited depressive symptoms
- more colds

Health status relationship to PSS: Cohen et al. (1988) show correlations with PSS and: Stress Measures, Self- Reported Health and Health Services Measures, Health Behavior Measures, Smoking Status, Help Seeking Behavior.

Temporal Nature: Because levels of appraised stress should be influenced by daily hassles, major events, and changes in coping resources, predictive validity of the PSS is expected to fall off rapidly after four to eight weeks.

Copyright © 1994. By Sheldon Cohen. All rights reserved. 

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