Perceived Stress Levels and Support of Student Disability Services

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Sarah Ardell
Peter Beug
Kayla Hrudka


Perceived stress of university students tends to be higher for students with disabilities compared to students without disabilities. Students with disabilities may therefore require campus support to manage additional stress they encounter. The current study investigated the relationship between students’ perceived stress levels and enrollment in university campus Disability Services for Students (DSS). Three groups of university students were studied: those without disabilities (n = 42), those with disabilities registered with DSS (n = 21), and those with disabilities not registered with DSS (n = 23). Three hypotheses were tested. First, students with disabilities would have higher overall perceived stress levels compared to students without disabilities. Second, students with disabilities who were not registered with DSS would experience a higher level of perceived stress compared to students with disabilities who were registered with DSS. Third, students with disabilities registered with DSS would have a similar level of perceived stress to students without disabilities. Student participants completed an online self-report survey containing the Perceived Stress Scale(Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983). A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to investigate potential differences in perceived stress levels between the three groups. The results indicated that students with disabilities reported higher levels of stress compared to their peers without disabilities, yet DSS had no significant effect on perceived stress among students with disabilities. With these findings, we suggest that further research on the relationship between DSS and other academic factors, such as students’ grade point average, should be conducted.