The UCLA Stress and Resilience Assessment (SARA) Project aims were to:
1) Develop a novel, brief self-assessment tool called the UCLA Stress and Resilience Assessment (SARA) that enables individuals to assess their own recent life stress, and current resources and capacities that promote or sustain psychological resilience.
We completed this development, and used a programmer to design it into an engaging survey instrument that took about 20 minutes to complete. The survey evaluated stress and resilience-promoting factors, along with awareness of current resources (see Appendix). Results show strong early psychometrics for the instruments in the survey. In addition we added a series of 8 brief weekly email reminders, or “nudges,” that were sent to those in the study and which provided suggestions about different activities that would help promote resilience, and linked these explicitly to campus resources.
2) Implement SARA in pilot testing of UCLA undergraduate and graduate students, to assess the basic psychometric properties of the new instrument, to collect preliminary data on the concurrent and predictive validity of the assessment tool, and to explore the possible effects of increasing awareness about stress and resilience on participation in resilience-promoting activities and on well-being (increased positive and decreased negative affect, increased satisfaction with life).
We delivered the instrument via email to 4,000 students (2,000 graduate, 2,000 undergraduate) who were randomly selected from the registrar’s database, as planned. We then randomly assigned those who consented to SARA+ and SARA- conditions, to see if there might be an effect of the stress and resilience assessment itself. The program automatically randomized 1,249 individuals who consented to the active SARA+ condition (n = 651) or a control group, the SARA- condition (n = 598). A total of 880 students completed baseline assessments at Time 1 (T1) (SARA+ [n = 464]; SARA- [n = 416]), and 440 completed follow-up assessment at Time 2 (T2) (SARA+ [n = 232]; SARA- [n = 208]). We found the psychometric properties of our stress and resilience assessments to be good (Resilience Index, alpha = .88), perceived stress alpha = .82, .83 at T1 and T2 respectively, and the chronic stressful life event index alpha = .75. We also found robust concurrent validity of our resilience and stress measures, which showed positive and negative correlations, respectively, with increased satisfaction with life; lower depression and anxiety; higher positive and lower negative affect; and better general health (r’s range .2 to .74; all ps<.001). We found a major pre- to post-study difference reflecting increases in resource awareness and utilization, which we believe is primarily due to exposing students to information they were not previously aware of, and to weekly reminders about the availability of these resources.
Primary Investigators: Robert M. Bilder, Ph.D., Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, firstname.lastname@example.org.