Aims. To explore university students’ levels of stress, stressors, and their coping style. Methods. A cross-sectional correlational design with a convenience sample (n = 676) of university students who completed the Student-Life Stress Inventory (SSI) and Coping Strategies Indicator (CSI) was used. Findings. Overall, two-thirds of the participant reported moderate levels of stress. Students with chronic illness, living alone, low CGPA, and having exams today experienced a statistically higher mean level of stress. Students who are living alone used the “avoidance” method more significantly and the “social support” method significantly less compared with students who are living with their families and friends. Conclusion. This study concurs with others that university students are prone to distress. To our knowledge, this is the first study in the region to explore the students’ coping skills. Some of the employed coping and associated factors could be used to lay the groundwork for evidence-based prevention and mitigation.
Mounting evidence supports the belief that university students experience moderate to high levels of stress [1–5]. The interplay between biology and the environment renders vulnerable adolescents and young adults to experience stress and distress. Researchers have identified various predictors of stress among university students, including individual, environmental, and coping factors. Personality traits are an example of individual factors. A study by Rettew et al.  found that students with high levels of neuroticism, a personality trait characterized by anxiety and negative thinking, reported higher levels of stress. In addition, students who are introverted and have a tendency to withdraw from social situations may be more susceptible to stress than those who are extroverted and enjoy social interaction . There is evidence to suggest that other personality traits, such as conscientiousness and agreeableness, may also be positively associated with stress levels among university students .
Environmental factors such as specialisation, living situation, social support, and campus resources are also important explanatory variables of stress among university students. For example, a study by McLean et al.  found that students who reported lower levels of social support had higher levels of stress. In addition, students who have supportive peers and family members are more likely to have positive attitudes toward university and lower levels of stress . Similarly, a meta-analysis found that students who had access to mental health services and other campus resources reported lower levels of stress than those who lacked such support . Additionally, students who have access to other campus resources, such as academic support services, may be better equipped to manage stress and succeed academically . Other factors which were significantly associated with a higher level of stress were smart phone use and sleeping hours .
The current study explored university students’ levels of stress, stressors, and their coping styles. The results revealed that the majority of students have a moderate level of stress (75.1%), followed by those with a severe level of stress (13.5%) and a mild level of stress (11.4%). Stress and burnout syndrome have emerged in the Arabian Gulf countries from research using different measures such as Influence of Studying on Student Health (ISSH), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Stress subscale of Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21), Copenhagen Burnout Inventory, Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale, Common Stressor Inventory, Maslach Burnout Inventory, and Maslach Burnout Inventory (Student Survey). In Oman, in studies of medical students, various researchers including Aboalshamat et al. , Al-Alawi et al. , Al-Dabal et al. , Al-Khani et al. , Al Rasheed et al. , and Mahfouz et al.  have reported the rate of stress and distress as ranging from 7.4% to 96.3%. In Bahrain, Al Ubaidi et al.  and Sanad  found 47% and 92% to be subject to stress and distress, respectively; in Qatar, Fadhel and Adawi  reported 89.2% stress and distress. In Kuwait, the prevalence of 43% and 43.8% was reported by Ahmed et al.  and Badr et al. , respectively. The rate in the present study appears to tend towards a higher figure, even though such comparison may not be valid because of the use of different assessment measures and catchment areas.