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January 2022

Health behaviours reported as coping strategies: A factor analytical study

Author(s): Hardy, L., Cooper, C. L., Jemal, H.

Journal/Book: Br J Health Psychol. 1996; 1: St Andrews House, 48 Princess Rd East, Leicester, Leics, England LE1 7DR. British Psychological Soc. 263-281.

Abstract: Objectives. This study aimed to explore the relationships between health behaviours which participants reported using as coping strategies, and other, more documented, coping strategies. Design. The relationships were examined using exploratory factor analysis of questionnaire data. Methods. Items reflecting the use of health behaviours as ways of coping with stressful situations mere del;eloped. Behaviours included relaxation, earing and weight control, preventive medicine, exercise and fitness, safety, sleep, use of caffeine, alcohol use, smoking and general self-care. These 30 items were, intermingled with Carver, Scheier & Weintraub's (1989) COPE items. The whole was administered with COPE instructions to 256 adults. Principal-axis factoring with oblique rotation was employed. Results. Factor analysis of the health behaviour items along with 13 COPE scales eventuated in a sis-factor solution, explaining 47.8 per cent of the variance. Three factors reflected problem-focused coping, emotion-focused coping and avoidance, and three quite distinct factors reflected exercise, earing and self-care. Women compared with men tended more towards emotion-focused coping and eating. Older individuals compared with younger tended more towards problem-focused coping and self-care, and less towards eating. Conclusions. Because the health behaviours formed quite distinct factors, it is suggested that health behaviours may serve coping functions other than the previously well documented functions of problem-focused, emotion-focused or avoidance. It is speculated that exercise and self-care may function in a preventive fashion as resources for coping. Other possible interpretations of the results are discussed.

Note: Article Ingledew DK, Univ Wales, Div Hlth & Human Performance, Ffriddoedd Bldg, Victoria Dr, Bangor LL57 2EN, Gwynedd, WALES


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