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academic stress, emerging adulthood, premenstrual symptoms, symptom distress


Premenstrual symptoms are a universal event during a woman’s reproductive life but little is known about the experience of emerging adulthood women aged 18-25 years. The purpose of this study was to determine feasibility of daily symptom data collection via an electronic diary and to examine the relationship between premenstrual symptom perception, severity and distress with academic stress. This sample consisted of 50 women with a mean age of 20(±.9) years living in campus housing of a private undergraduate rural college. Results determined it is feasible to utilize an electronic diary for daily prospective symptom and academic demand data collection. Surprisingly, in this sample of healthy undergraduate women, there were significantly higher numbers of symptoms perceived (7.16±3.8 follicular and 6.18±3.3 luteal, p=.001 and higher distress (.39±.3 follicular and .31±.3 luteal, p=.003) in the follicular phase than in the luteal phase. Academic stress findings indicated mild stress as measured by the Student-life Stress Inventory (Gadzella, 1991) and students overall perceived stress levels fell in the minimal to mild range. The academic demand component of academic stress measured daily frequency and distress associated with assignments, papers, projects/presentation and time studying. Within the follicular phase number of assignments due was significantly correlated to symptom perception and distress (.31, .37, respectively) and the number of projects/presentations due was correlated to symptom distress (.25) at p<.05. There were significant correlations between follicular phase symptom perception and distress, and luteal phase symptom distress with academic demand distress for assignments, papers, projects/presentations and time studying, indicating a relationship between distress components of symptom experience and some components of academic stress. These premier results about the relationship between symptom distress and academic stress warrants further exploration and development of a clearer conceptual definition of academic stress and clear and consistent operationalization of this phenomena.


  • A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the College of Nursing of the University of Arizona in partial fulfillment for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
  • Dr. Judith Berg, Committee Chairperson
  • © 2009 Pamela Lou Hulstein

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