OBJECTIVES: The main purpose of the current study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Italian version of the University Stress Scale (USS) among Italian medical students. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A cross-sectional observational study based on data from an online cross-sectional survey from 11 to 23 December 2018. A total of 1858 Italian medical students participated in the study. OUTCOME MEASURES: We measured perceived stress among medical students using the USS, the Effort-Reward Imbalance Student Questionnaire (ERI-SQ) and the Kessler-10 (K10). RESULTS: Results showed that a bifactor-Exploratory Structural Equation Modeling solution provided excellent levels of fit to the data. Our results suggest that the modified version of 19 items of the Italian version of the USS does not have a simple unidimensional structure. Overall, an inspection of ancillary indices (omega indices, ECV and percentage of uncontaminated correlations) revealed that these were too low to suggest the use of the USS as a composite measure of university stress. We tested an alternative unidimensional short form (eight items; USS-S) that assessed all the five sources of stress. This version provided a good fit to the data. Evidence of convergent validity of the USS-S was observed by analysing the correlations between the USS and ERI-SQ (ranging from -0.34 to 0.37, all p<0.01). Finally, based on the clinical cut-off recommended on the K10, results from receiver operating characteristic showed that considering the clinical cut-off of the USS is 7.5 and that 59.70% of medical students reported stress levels in the clinical range. CONCLUSION: Finally, our results showed a lack of support for using the USS to measure a general university stress factor, as the general USS factor accounted for little variance in our sample. In this sense, stress scores among Italian students can be better assessed by the use of the USS-S.

Additional Metadata
Keywords education & training (see medical education & training), preventive medicine, public health
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035255, hdl.handle.net/1765/130131
Journal BMJ Open
Citation
Portoghese, I, Porru, F, Galletta, M, Campagna, M, & Burdorf, A. (2020). Stress among medical students: factor structure of the University Stress Scale among Italian students. BMJ Open, 10(9). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035255