Stress, health and the benefit of social support

Health Rep. 2004 Jan;15(1):9-38.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Life Change Events*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires