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Nurs Res. 1977 Mar-Apr;26(2):136-41.

Stressful life events and coping methods in mental-illness and -wellness behaviors.


A descriptive comparative study examined not only the relationship between stressful life events and mental-illness and -wellness behaviors but also the coping methods used by individuals exhibiting each behavior. Data collection included the use of the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Rating Scale and an 18-item coping scale administered to experimental and control samples. The experimental group consisted of 30 psychiatric inpatients in three general hospitals who were oriented in three spheres. Control group subjects had no history of psychiatric illness, were currently not receiving medical treatment, and were adequately functioning in socially accepted roles. They were randomly selected to match the patient on the basis of age, sex, and county of residence. The experimental group reported that significantly more stressful life events had occurred in the last six months and significantly more short-term than long-term coping methods had been used when compared with the control group. Sex and age differences were noted. A significant association was found between high stress scores and short-term coping methods for subjects in both groups. The concept of change as it relates to stress and its effect on health is an important consideration for health care professionals whose goals are health maintenance and illness prevention.

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