Relations of SARS-related stressors and coping to Chinese college students' psychological adjustment during the 2003 Beijing SARS epidemic

J Couns Psychol. 2011 Jul;58(3):410-23. doi: 10.1037/a0023632.


This study examined the main and interactive relations of stressors and coping related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) with Chinese college students' psychological adjustment (psychological symptoms, perceived general health, and life satisfaction) during the 2003 Beijing SARS epidemic. All the constructs were assessed by self-report in an anonymous survey during the final period of the outbreak. Results showed that the relations of stressors and coping to psychological adjustment varied by domain of adjustment. Regression analyses suggested that the number of stressors and use of avoidant coping strategies positively predicted psychological symptoms. Active coping positively predicted life satisfaction when controlling for stressors. Moreover, all types of coping served as a buffer against the negative impact of stressors on perceived general health. These findings hold implications for university counseling services during times of acute, large-scale stressors. In particular, effective screening procedures should be developed to identify students who experience a large number of stressors and thus are at high risk for developing mental health problems. Intervention efforts that target coping should be adapted to take account of the uncontrollability of stressors and clients' cultural preferences for certain coping strategies. A multidimensional battery of psychological adjustment should be used to monitor clients' psychological adjustment to stressors and evaluate the efficacy of intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Causality
  • China
  • Culture
  • Epidemics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Risk Factors
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / psychology*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult