A scoping review of stress beliefs: literature integration, measurement issues, and theoretical concerns

Christopher J. Kilby*, Kerry A. Sherman, Viviana M. Wuthrich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Individual stress beliefs are associated with stress-related behavioral responses and health consequences. The Common-Sense Model of Self-Regulation may help in understanding the role of stress beliefs in these behavioral responses and consequences.
Purpose: To synthesize empirical studies exploring the relationship between stress beliefs and stress-related behavioral responses and health consequences using the Common-Sense Model as a guiding framework.

Methods: Peer-reviewed journal articles on stress beliefs in PsycArticles, PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus, and Sociological Abstracts were included if they were in English, reported on adult humans. Nineteen of the 1,972 unique articles reporting on 24 studies met inclusion criteria. Study quality was assessed with existing reporting criteria.

Results: Four of the five Common-Sense Model representations were included across the review studies, namely Identity, Cause, Consequences, and Control. Consequences and Control-related stress beliefs are associated with stress-based health and behavioral outcomes. One study explored Identity-related stress beliefs with health outcomes, reporting no relationship. No study assessed the relationship between Cause-related stress beliefs and behaviors or health outcomes. No study has explored any aspect of Timeline-related stress beliefs. Study quality ranged from very low to very high.

Conclusions: There is limited evidence exploring stress-related beliefs and behaviors and health outcomes. According to the Common-Sense Model, the Timeline representations remains to be investigated in the stress context, and Identity and Cause are under-researched. This review highlights future directions for stress beliefs research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595–610
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number8
Early online date27 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2020


  • belief
  • Common-Sense Model
  • individual differences
  • scoping review
  • stress


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