First Advisor

Claire Wheeler

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Public Health Studies: Pre-clinical Health Science and University Honors


Health Studies




Life skills, Stress management, COVID-19 Pandemic (2020- ) -- Oregon -- Portland -- Psychological aspects -- Case studies, Adjustment (Psychology)




Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the coping mechanisms used by the Portland State University (PSU) community and their relationships to perceived stress.

Methods: A virtual survey composed of demographic questions, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS10), the Brief COPE, and two open-ended questions was distributed to the community. Data were collected from 231 respondents, mostly PSU students. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to compute mean PSS score, adaptive coping score, and avoidant coping score. Pearson correlations and t-tests were run to explore the relationship between perceived stress and coping data.

Results: Perceived stress of the study population was higher than normative college student values. Greater use of adaptive coping mechanisms than avoidant coping mechanisms were reported by participants. A positive correlation between the use of avoidant coping and perceived stress was found, while adaptive coping and perceived stress were found to have a negative correlation. While female respondents were found to have higher perceived stress levels than males, gender was not found to be a moderator in the relationship between stress and coping. Specific coping mechanisms were reported by participants to be effective for them including physical activity and social support. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the stress of many of the respondents.

Conclusions: Mind-body practices and physical activity may act as adaptive coping mechanisms that can aid in decreasing perceived stress. These strategies should be encouraged on college campuses especially considering the detrimental effects the pandemic has had on mental health and wellbeing.


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