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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(4), 3972-3981; doi:10.3390/ijerph110403972
Article

Perceived Stress Scores among Saudi Students Entering Universities: A Prospective Study during the First Year of University Life

1,2,3,* , 1,4
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1 Prince Mutaib Chair for Biomarkers of Osteoporosis, Biochemistry Department, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2 Biomarkers Research Program, Biochemistry Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 3 Center of Excellence in Biotechnology Research Center, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 4 College of Applied Medical Sciences, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 5 Preparatory Year Program, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 6 First Department of Pediatrics, Athens University Medical School, Athens 11527, Greece
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 December 2013 / Revised: 26 March 2014 / Accepted: 28 March 2014 / Published: 10 April 2014
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Abstract

In this prospective study we wanted to determine whether perceived stress over time among students in the Preparatory Year of King Saud University (KSU) predisposes them to cardiometabolic abnormalities. A total of 110 apparently healthy Saudi students (35 men and 75 women enrolled during the 2010−2011 academic year) were included. Perceived stress was determined at baseline and 1 year later. Anthropometrics were obtained and morning fasting serum glucose, lipid profile and cortisol were measured at both times. Perceived stress was noted among 48.2% of subjects at baseline and was not significantly different after follow-up, with 45.4% scoring high. In men, the prevalence of perceived stress was 48.6% at baseline (13 out of 35) and 37.1% at follow-up (13 out of 35), while in women it was 48% at baseline and 49.3% at follow-up. Interestingly, significant improvements in the blood pressure and lipid profiles, with the exception of HDL-cholesterol, were observed in both men and women, while fasting glucose also improved in women. Serum cortisol was inversely associated to fasting glucose, and total- and LDL-cholesterol (p-values 0.007, 0.04 and 0.04, respectively). These data are opposite to findings in students entering Western universities, in whom increasing stress and a deteriorating cardiometabolic profile have been repeatedly noted. Perceived stress and morning cortisol levels among students of the Preparatory Year in KSU remained constant for both genders over time, yet an improved cardiometabolic profile was observed, suggesting good adaptation among our pre-college students in their first year of university life.
Keywords: stress; college life; Saudi students stress; college life; Saudi students
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Al-Daghri, N.M.; Al-Othman, A.; Albanyan, A.; Al-Attas, O.S.; Alokail, M.S.; Sabico, S.; Chrousos, G.P. Perceived Stress Scores among Saudi Students Entering Universities: A Prospective Study during the First Year of University Life. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 3972-3981.

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