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Stress In Context (S.I.C.)

Stress In Context (SIC) Questionnaire

Global stress measures, such as the Perceived Stress Scale, are relative measures, which is a strength, in

that this measure can be used in any population and context. However, it also presents a limitation for

assessing how stress perceptions may be linked to specific contexts that are typically creating demand.

For example, individuals facing chronic social adversity like living in a low socioeconomic neighborhood

rife with danger, do not have as elevated stress scores as one might predict, suggesting there is

habituation or social comparison that leads to normalizing the environment and thus lower stress

scores. This may obscure links with health outcomes in chronic stress exposed populations. The Stress in

Context (SIC) questionnaire has been developed to address this limitation. The SIC assesses stress

perceptions in specific contexts, such as at home, neighborhood, in social relationships, at work, and

during childhood. Weighting stress perceptions to each of these contexts may help remind people of the

many potential sources of perceived stress from their environment, and thus get a more accurate

summative measure. The SIC may be more relevant for lower-income populations or samples exposed to

chronic adversity.

Currently, the SIC is being validated by the Stress Measurement Network, led by Wendy Berry Mendes. So far, it is equivalent to the PSS in self-report measures of psychological distress, well-being, and self-reported health, but shows a unique relationship to resting sympathetic state. It is correlated with the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) around .77. - so the PSS would be an alternative, well-validated measure. We have attached our poster that compared the PSS and the SIC below. If you decide to use the SIC, please let us know if you find any interesting results with it. To obtain the most current version, please contact us (

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