How do you think about stress? A qualitative analysis of beliefs about stress

Christopher Jon Kilby*, Kerry A. Sherman, Viviana Wuthrich

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    128 Downloads (Pure)


    This qualitative study aimed to identify common stress beliefs. Undergraduate psychology students (N = 35) completed semi-structured interviews discussing the sensations, causes, purpose, valence, consequences, control, and timeline of stress. Interviews were analysed via double-coded thematic analysis employing a latent, inductive, and realist framework. Five themes (cognition, emotion, physical health, interpersonal relations, and behaviour) and 17 subthemes were identified. Themes and subthemes were validated in a Delphi study of experts in stress research (N = 14). Many of these identified beliefs have not been incorporated into current measures of stress beliefs, suggesting the need for new approaches to measuring this construct.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2756– 2767
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Health Psychology
    Issue number14
    Early online date12 Jun 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


    • beliefs
    • psychological distress
    • qualitative methods
    • stress
    • stress-related growth


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