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How do I choose the right stress measure?
There is no ideal measure of stress. With constraints on participant burden and other considerations, difficult choices about which “type” of stress to capture need to be made. The choice of which measure to use depends on the research question and study population. Some types of stress will be more or less relevant for different groups based on that sample’s demographic make-up. To capture a wide-range of stress types in an observational study using self-report questionnaires in adult community samples, we suggest measuring the following categories of stress that were selected based on the evidence linking each to worse health: major life events, traumatic events, early life adversity, current experiences of chronic stress, current social stress (i.e. loneliness, social isolation, marital discord), experiences of discrimination, work stress, financial strain, neighborhood safety, and cohesion, and global perceived stress. This list can and should be expanded to account for the uniqueness in the sample. For example, international cohorts may choose to include measures that capture political strife, religious persecution, overcrowding in living quarters, noise pollution, or combat exposure if these exposures are common in the area.