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Stress, Social Support, and Health Among College Students After September 11, 2001

The current study was designed to examine associations among stress due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, social support, and health (depression and physical illness) in a college student sample. In December 2001, students from Eastern universities (N= 666; 482 women, 184 men; average age 19.5 yrs.) completed measures of stress from terrorism (developed by the authors), supportive behaviors received from friends and family (Experienced Support Scale; Xu & Burleson, 2001), symptoms of depression (Depression Anxiety Stress Scale; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995), and illness (Pennebaker Inventory of Limbid Languidness; Pennebaker, 1982). The results indicate that even among college students with low exposure to the 9/11 attacks, terrorism-related stress was associated with greater depressive and illness symptoms (p < .05), and that emotional and tangible support were associated with fewer symptoms (p < .05). Findings are considered for their practical implications for college students and personnel.