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Introduction

According to the relational, or transactional, stress concept favoured by most researchers in the field, stress is a process in which external or internal demands are interpreted by persons in relation to their own resources, values, and goals. Stress occurs if demands are appraised as taxing or exceeding the person's abilities or resources to cope with those demands. The most widely examined manifestations of stress are emotional and biological responses, particularly neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and immune responses. Furthermore, stress is expected to lead to attempts at coping with the situations perceived as stressful (Cohen, Kessler & Underwood Gordon, 1997; Herbert & Cohen, 1996; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).

Based on the relational stress concept, assessment of stress includes four main components: (1) environmental demands, usually termed stres-sors; (2) ...

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