During the transitional phase from childhood to adulthood, adolescents encounter many changes and challenges. Stress is associated with reduced health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in adolescents and, thus, impacts all aspects of their life. Adolescents’ thoughts and beliefs in their capacity may be essential with regard to their subjective perception of stress and coping with it. Insights into the complexity of stress and exploration of the possible underlying mechanisms in adolescence are needed. We sought to describe stress, HRQOL, and self-efficacy and explore the association between stress and HRQOL by testing for self-efficacy as a possible mediator in adolescents.
In total, 696 school-based adolescents aged 14–15 years participated in this study. Participants were recruited from 22 schools in the Eastern and Southern parts of Norway. All participants completed an electronic survey in their respective classrooms. The survey included demographic data, the Perceived Stress Questionnaire, the KIDSCREEN-27 questionnaire measuring HRQOL, and the General Perceived Self-Efficacy Scale. Statistical analyses were conducted using the PROCESS macro for SPSS Statistics software by Andrew Hayes model 4.
Descriptive analyses revealed overall low levels of stress with a score of 0.29 (SD, 0.15). Nevertheless, stress was negatively associated with all HRQOL subscales: physical well-being (B = − 25.60), psychological well-being (B = − 38.43), autonomy and parents (B = − 28.84), social support and peers (B = − 21.05), and school environment (B = − 30.28). Furthermore, these respective associations were all mediated by self-efficacy, which explained approximately one-fifth of the reduction in HRQOL. The highest degree of mediation and, thus, the largest indirect effect was estimated for the HRQOL subscale physical well-being (31.7%).
Our findings extend prior research on the mechanisms underlying the relationship between perceived stress and HRQOL in adolescents. They demonstrated that perceived stress explained most of the reduction in the HRQOL after adjusting for the effect of self-efficacy. Hence, stress itself appears to be an important target for future interventions to enhance HRQOL, rather than purely focusing on increasing self-efficacy to enhance the HRQOL in adolescents. Our findings highlight the importance of a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms to develop strategic and accurate interventions for adolescents.