PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to compare stress levels of elementary students according to three regional levels: a large city, a medium-sized city, and a rural area. METHODS: This was a descriptive comparative survey using a convenience sample of 1,161 5th-and 6th-grade students. The stress level was measured by a stress scale that consisted of 65 items regarding personal characteristics, family, school, and peer factors. The data were analyzed by chi2-test, t-test, ANOVA and multiple regression using the SPSS 10.0 statistical program. RESULTS: Overall, the mean stress scores reported by the participants were near the middle of a 5-point scale and the level of family-related stress was highest, followed by peer, school, and individual-related stress. Sixth-graders and female students showed higher stress levels than 5th-graders and male students, respectively. The participants reporting unsatisfaction with their lives and those living in large cities tended to have significantly higher stress levels. CONCLUSION: Grade, gender, life satisfaction, and regional levels were all significant factors associated with high stress levels among elementary students. Development of stress management programs for this specific population, especially targeting students who are female and living in large cities, is needed.
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