Health Care System Falling Short for Stress Management, Denver Residents Report

Feb 07, 2013, 11:00 ET from American Psychological Association

Stress and mental health not being addressed by health care system

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Denver residents, like Americans across the country, are finding a disconnect with what they want from their health care provider and what they actually receive, according to a new survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA), conducted online by Harris Interactive among 2,020 U.S. adults ages 18+. In addition, 207 residents of Denver were interviewed.

The survey shows that residents of Denver are more likely than adults nationwide to engage in unhealthy behaviors due to stress and are more likely to experience physical and non-physical symptoms of stress. Denver residents are more likely to spend more than two hours or more per day watching TV or movies (40 percent vs. 34 percent of Americans nationwide), to nap (34 percent vs. 28 percent), and to eat (28 percent vs. 25 percent) to help manage their stress. Denver residents are even reporting experiencing higher rates of fatigue (42 percent vs. 37 percent adults nationwide), feeling nervous or anxious (45 percent vs. 35 percent), and feeling overwhelmed (41 percent vs. 35 percent) due to stress. More than a third of Denver residents think that discussing stress management with their health care providers is extremely or very important (35 percent), yet only 21 percent say that they have this discussion often or always.

Similarly, 48 percent of Denver residents think it is important to discuss lifestyle and healthy behavior change with their health care provider, however, only 34 percent say that this happens often or always.

Stress remains higher than what Denver residents consider healthy. Their average stress level of 5.5 is 1.8 points higher than what they define as a healthy level of stress (3.7 on a 10 point scale, where 10 means 'a great deal of stress'). Survey respondents in Denver cite money, work, and the economy as the most common sources of stress, similar to adults nationwide (money: 69 percent for Denver and nationally; work: 77 percent vs. 65 percent; economy: 59 percent vs. 61 percent). And, 43 percent of Denver residents say that their stress has increased over the past year, with more people reporting that they experience extreme stress, a 8, 9, or 10 on the scale (28 percent in 2012 vs. 18 percent in 2011). Denver residents continue to report exercising or walking (57 percent) and listening to music (56 percent), and reading (40 percent) as ways that they manage their stress.

"Stress can negatively affect one's overall health, and the fact that most Denver residents are not discussing their stress with their health care provider is concerning," said Denver-area psychologist Dr. Stephanie Smith, the public education coordinator for the Colorado Psychological Association. "With Denver residents reporting higher levels of stress than what they consider healthy, it is important for people to talk to their provider about ways they can manage stress to prevent stress-related illness."

Findings from the national survey, Stress in America™: Missing the Health Care Connection, suggest that people are not receiving what they need from their health care providers to manage stress and address lifestyle and behavior changes to improve their health.  The survey showed that while Americans think it is important that health care focuses on issues related to stress and living healthier lifestyles, their experiences do not seem to match up with what they value. For example, though 32 percent of Americans say it is very/extremely important to talk with their health care providers about stress management, only 17 percent report that these conversations are happening often or always.

To read the full Stress in America report or to download graphics, visit

For additional information on stress, lifestyle and behaviors, visit and read APA's Mind/Body Health campaign blog Join the conversation about stress on Twitter by following @apahelpcenter and #stressAPA.


The Stress in America survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between August 3 and 31, 2012, among 2,020 adults aged 18 and older who reside in the U.S. In addition, an oversample of 207 adults living in the Denver Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was collected. MSAs are a formal definition of metropolitan areas produced by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. These geographic areas are delineated on the basis of central urbanized areas —contiguous counties of relatively high population density. Counties containing the core urbanized area are known as the central counties of the MSA. Additional surrounding counties (known as outlying counties) can be included in the MSA if these counties have strong social and economic ties to the central counties as measured by commuting and employment. Note that some areas within these outlying counties may actually be rural in nature. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. To read the full methodology, including the weighting variables, visit

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 137,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients—stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

SOURCE American Psychological Association