Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN, Chair; Cynthia D. Connelly, PhD, RN, FAAN; Gerald J. Butler, PhD


children & youth, Coping mechanism, humor, mental health, nursing, Stress, Stress management


Children are confronted with many stressors in their environment which may bring about symptoms such as anxiety, sadness, worry, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, restlessness, or low self esteem (Sharrer & Ryan-Wenger, 2002). To prevent the short and long term effects of stress, children may use coping strategies to manage or alter stressful life events (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). This study explores the relationships between stress and sense of humor among school-age children. A sample of 106 students (and parents/guardians) in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) returned self-report instruments packets containing the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale for Children, and the Spielberger Anxiety Inventories for Children which were filled out by the children. Included in the packet were the Pediatric Symptom Checklist, the demographic data form, and the Parent/Guardian Consent and Child Assent forms, which were filled out by the parent/guardian and assent was given by the child. Analysis of the sample (N=106) indicated that 48 per cent were male and 52 per cent were female. There were 26 males 9-10 years old and 25 males 11-12 years old. There were 29 females 9-10 years old and 26 females 11-12 years old. Data for the major variables of stress and humor-coping were analyzed using SPSS version 10. Pearson's product-moment correlations were used to examine the relationships among study variables. Independent-samples t-tests were used to compare the humor in 9-10 year olds with humor in 11-12 year olds. Signs of stress as measured by the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory for Children (STAIC-1) and by the Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC) were found to be significantly correlated (inversely) with Coping with Stress with Humor as measured by the Multidimensional Sense of Humor Scale for Children (MSHSC). The Pearson product-moment correlation for the STAIC-1 was r = -.291, p = .002, and for the PSC was r = -.228, p = .019. Subjects who used humor to cope with stress had lower anxiety at the moment and had fewer pediatric symptoms of behavioral stress. Furthermore, coping with stress with humor was positively correlated to humor creation and humor appreciation as measured by the MSHSC. Independent-samples t-test showed significant differences in humor variables in the two age groups of females. The mean score of humor appreciation and humor creation were significantly higher for females 9-10 years old than for females 11-12 years old. The results demonstrate a significant association between coping with stress with humor and the outcomes of lower anxiety at the moment and fewer pediatric symptoms of behavioral stress in children's lives.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons