The constant threat of terrorism: Stress levels and coping strategies amongst university students of Karachi

Ayesha Ejaz Ahmed, Komal Masood, Sohni Vicky Dean, Tanzila Shakir, Ahmed Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Usman Barlass, Syed Haider Imam, Mohammad Ghawar Khan Mohmand, Hussain Ibrahim, Imad Saeed Khan, Usman Akram, Farid Hasnain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objectives: To assess the levels of stress in the face of terrorism and the adopted coping strategies, amongst the student population of universities in Karachi. Methods: A descriptive, cross sectional study was conducted on undergraduate students from four universities of Karachi. Self-administered questionnaires were filled out by 291 students. Pearson Chi-Square test was used to assess associations between stress levels and different variables at a level of significance of 0.05%. Results: A total of 65.8% of the students had mild stress levels, 91.5% of university students were exposed to terrorism through television, while only 26.5% students reported personal exposure to terrorism. 67.4% students were forbidden by their parents to go out (p=0.002). Most of those who had self exposure to an attack were the ones whose parents forbade them from going out (p=0.00). Most commonly used coping strategy was increased faith in religion. Irritability was the most common stress symptom. Conclusion: A majority of students studying in universities of Karachi had mild stress levels due to the constant threat of terrorism whereas a minority had severe stress levels. Possible reasons for resilience and only mild stress levels could be the history of Karachi's internal conflicts and its prolonged duration of being exposed to terrorism. These students who are positive for stress need to be targeted for counseling either through the media or through their universities. More extensive research is needed in this area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-414
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Pakistan Medical Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Stress
  • Terrorism
  • Universities in Karachi


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