Adolescents' Experience of Stress: A Focus Group Interview Study with 16-19-Year-Old Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jul 26;19(15):9114. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19159114.


The purpose was to investigate stress among adolescents (16-19 years old) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Focus group (n = 9) interviews with students at upper secondary schools (16-19 years old, n = 41) were conducted in southern Sweden during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. The interviews were analyzed by qualitative content analysis. The analysis revealed five categories of experience of stress: (1) School-related stress, (2) Stress in relationships and leisure, (3) How stress manifests itself, (4) Stress can increase performance, and (5) Experiences of counteracting stress. The adolescents in the study experienced stress linked to school and relationships, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Distance education during the COVID-19 pandemic increased stress levels. The adolescents stated that high stress levels were experienced negatively and impaired their ability to perform, while moderate stress could contribute to achieving goals and improving performance. School nurses and other health professionals who meet with adolescents are important to support adolescents experiencing stress.

Keywords: adolescents; experience; focus group interviews; qualitative study; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Students
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding

This research was funded by the Research Platform for Collaboration for Health, Kristianstad University, Sweden and Ebba Danelius Foundation in the Swedish Society for Nurses.