Stress, Social Support, and Health Among College Students After September 11, 2001

Erina L. MacGeorge
Wendy Samter, Bryant University
Bo Feng
Seth J. Gillihan
Angela R. Graves

Document Type Article

Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press in Journal of College Student Development Volume 45, Number 6, Pages 655-670.

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The current study was designed to examine associations among stress due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, social support, and health (depression and physical illness) in a college student sample. In December 2001, students from Eastern universities (N = 666; 482 women, 184 men; average age 19.5 yrs.) completed measures of stress from terrorism (developed by the authors), supportive behaviors received from friends and family (Experienced Support Scale; Xu & Burleson, 2001), symptoms of depression (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995), and illness (Pennebaker Inventory of Limbid Languidness; Pennebaker, 1982). The results indicate that even among college students with low exposure to the 9/11 attacks, terrorism-related stress was associated with greater depressive and illness symptoms (p < .05), and that emotional and tangible support were associated with fewer symptoms (p < .05). Findings are considered for their practical implications for college students and personnel.