Why Does It Matter?

“How stress affects your brain” by Madhumita Murgia, 4 minutes

While stress can be helpful during certain activities like competitive sports or public speaking, chronic stress experienced over long periods of time has undesirable effects on brain size, structure, and function. Too much stress can cause the deterioration of electric signals in the hippocampus (affecting learning, memories, and stress control) and cause shrinking of the prefrontal cortex (affecting concentration, decision-making, judgement, and social interaction) (How stress affects your brain, 2015).

In a longitudinal study that examined the experience and behavior of STEM and medical students, researchers found that STEM students showed a substantial risk for burnout, and a decrease in healthy study-related behavior after three years in their college programs. These findings suggest a need for contextual health promotion and reduction of study-related stress to support student health and performance (Voltmer et al., 2019). Read more...

About the Instrument

The Perceived Stress survey aims to understand a student’s subjective experience of stress. Scores from the survey categorize individuals into one of three groups of perceived stress: low stress, moderate stress, or high stress.

There are 14 questions included in the Perceived Stress survey, and it takes 3-7 minutes to complete. Details about the questions and where they come from can be found in the document attached to this page.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels



  • Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385-396

  • How stress affects your brain - Madhumita Murgia. (2015, November 9). [Video]. YouTube.

  • Voltmer, E., Obst, K., Kötter, T., 2019. Study-related behavior patterns of medical students compared to students of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM): a three-year longitudinal study. BMC Medical Education 19.. doi:10.1186/s12909-019-1696-6