Objectives: This article describes stress exposure among Canadians aged 18 or older and analyzes short- and long-term associations with psychological distress and chronic conditions. The buffering role of emotional support is also explored.
Data sources: Data are from the household cross-sectional (1994/95) and longitudinal (1994/95 to 2000/01) components of Statistics Canada's National Population Health Survey. Supplemental data are from the 2000/01 Canadian Community Health Survey.
Analytical techniques: Exposure rates to stress were calculated by sex, age group and socio-economic characteristics. Multivariate analyses were used to examine associations between stress and mental and physical health in 1994/95, and between stress and changes in health by 2000/01, controlling for other possible confounders.
Main results: Women reported more stress than did men. For both sexes, stress levels were higher among the less educated, less affluent, and previously married. The level of psychological distress in 1994/95 and the prevalence of chronic conditions were related to stress, as were increases in distress over the next six years and the likelihood of having been diagnosed with chronic conditions.