Flexible coping responses to severe acute respiratory syndrome‐related and daily life stressful events

Department of Psychology, Peking University, Peping, Beijing, China
Asian Journal of Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 0.62). 03/2004; 7(1):55 - 66. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-839X.2004.00134.x


Based on the theoretical framework of coping flexibility, the present study examined the coping flexibility of university students in response to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-related and daily life stressful events. The Coping Flexibility Questionnaire was used to investigate 93 university students’ coping responses toward 10 SARS-related stressful events and 10 daily life stressful events that generally occur among university students. Results showed that the patterns of coping flexibility were different for the two types of stressful events. The flexible and the active-inflexible patterns were most commonly found in coping with daily life stressful events. By contrast, the passive-inconsistent pattern was dominant when coping with daily life stressful events. Moreover, participants showed lower discriminating ability to situation controllability, and displayed poorer strategy-situation fit to cope with SARS-related events than with daily life stressful events. The theoretical and practical implications of this study are discussed.

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    • "There are reasons to expect that some of the previously found associations between coping and adjustment in dealing with common life stressors might not generalize to coping with SARSrelated stressors. Consistent with the perspective that avoidant coping may be more adaptive than active coping in the face of uncontrollable stressors, Gan et al. (2004) found that college students reported using less active (problem-focused) coping strategies and more avoidant (emotion-focused) coping strategies in response to SARS-related stressors (which were rated by participants as less controllable) than to daily stressors during the outbreak . Therefore, avoidant coping with SARS-related stressors may be associated with less psychological distress (especially when the individual is experiencing a large number of stressors), which buffers the negative effect of stressors on adjustment. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the main and interactive relations of stressors and coping related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) with Chinese college students' psychological adjustment (psychological symptoms, perceived general health, and life satisfaction) during the 2003 Beijing SARS epidemic. All the constructs were assessed by self-report in an anonymous survey during the final period of the outbreak. Results showed that the relations of stressors and coping to psychological adjustment varied by domain of adjustment. Regression analyses suggested that the number of stressors and use of avoidant coping strategies positively predicted psychological symptoms. Active coping positively predicted life satisfaction when controlling for stressors. Moreover, all types of coping served as a buffer against the negative impact of stressors on perceived general health. These findings hold implications for university counseling services during times of acute, large-scale stressors. In particular, effective screening procedures should be developed to identify students who experience a large number of stressors and thus are at high risk for developing mental health problems. Intervention efforts that target coping should be adapted to take account of the uncontrollability of stressors and clients' cultural preferences for certain coping strategies. A multidimensional battery of psychological adjustment should be used to monitor clients' psychological adjustment to stressors and evaluate the efficacy of intervention.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Journal of Counseling Psychology
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    • "Gan and colleagues (2006) [5], however, reported that depressive participants with higher educational qualifications exhibited lower levels of coping flexibility. In fact, when stressful events were encountered in daily life, active-inflexible coping was the dominant strategy employed by Chinese university students perceiving most situations as controllable [12]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study explored the prevalence of depressed mood among Chinese undergraduate students and examined the coping patterns and degree of flexibility of flexibility of such patterns associated with such mood. A set of questionnaire assessing coping patterns, coping flexibility, and depressive symptoms were administered to 428 students (234 men and 194 women). A total of 266 participants both completed the entire set of questionnaires and reported a frequency of two or more stressful life events (the criterion needed to calculate variance in perceived controllability). Findings showed that higher levels of depressive symptoms were significantly associated with higher levels of both event frequency (r = .368, p < .001) and event impact (r = .245, p < .001) and lower levels of perceived controllability (r = -.261, p < .001), coping effectiveness (r = -.375, p < .001), and ratio of strategy to situation fit (r = -.108, p < .05). Depressive symptoms were not significantly associated with cognitive flexibility (variance of perceived controllability; r = .031, p = .527), Gender was not a significant moderator of any of the reported associations. Findings indicate that Chinese university students with depressive symptoms reported experiencing a greater number of negative events than did non-depressed university students. In addition, undergraduates with depressive symptoms were more likely than other undergraduates to utilize maladaptive coping methods. Such findings highlight the potential importance of interventions aimed at helping undergraduate students with a lower coping flexibility develop skills to cope with stressful life events.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2010 · Health and Quality of Life Outcomes
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    • "This is viable in view of the significant relationship between the sense of control and trust (Burke & Stets, 1999). This control/alienation explanation is particularly relevant to the stress of the SARS, which appears to be personally uncontrollable (Gan et al., 2004; Shi et al., 2003). Meanwhile, the press and many people believe that government and medical actions, such as quarantining, disseminating information on the SARS, advocating for taking precautionary measures, and conducting medical research and treatment, are capable of or responsible for controlling the society-wide spread of the SARS (Benitez et al., 2003, 2004; Lee & Benitez, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: The SARS crisis of 2003 in Hong Kong generated widespread public fear and escalated the efforts of government and medical institutions for infection control. As such, the role of the government and medical institution in preventing public fear and anxiety became prominent. As hypothesized, trust in the institutions is especially relevant to public fear and anxiety during the epidemic crisis. For testing hypotheses involving the role of institutional trust, a telephone survey during the crisis in April 2003 and another telephone survey after the crisis in June 2003 drew data from 9,402 Hong Kong adults for analysis. Results indicate the significant negative effects of trust in the government and trust in the medical institution on anxiety. Supporting the aforementioned hypothesis the effect of institutional trust in the government was significantly more negative on anxiety during the crisis than its aftermath. Hence, the government and medical institution are particularly responsible for anxiety reduction during the crisis.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2008 · Social Work in Public Health
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