Stress among UK academics : identifying who copes best?

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Darabi, Mitra ; Macaskill, Ann ; Reidy, Lisa (2016)

This paper examined the levels of stress and coping strategies among UK academics. Adopting a positive psychology approach, the influence of the character strengths of hope, optimism, gratitude and self-efficacy, on stress, subjective well-being (SWB), and mental health (GHQ) was examined in 216 academics in a UK university. The study explored the relationship between coping styles and work-coping variables of sense of coherence and work locus of control and stress. No significant differences on the stress, well-being and mental health measures were found for participants' gender, whether in full-time or part-time employment and level of seniority within the university. Participants using problem-focussed coping experienced lower levels of stress while dysfunctional coping was a positive predictor of stress. Hope agency, hope pathway, gratitude, optimism and self-efficacy were the strongest positive predictors of satisfaction with life (SWL), while levels of perceived stress negatively predicted SWL. Gratitude, hope agency and self-efficacy positively predicted positive affect, while stress was a negative predictor. Gratitude, hope agency, self-efficacy and optimism were negative significant predictors of negative affect while stress was a positive predictor. Gratitude positively predicted mental health, while stress was a negative predictor and optimism was a significant moderator of the relationship between stress and mental health. Academics with higher levels of gratitude, self-efficacy, hope and optimism report lower levels of stress at work and higher levels of well-being as measured by higher life satisfaction, higher positive affect and lower negative affect. New approaches to stress management training are suggested based on these findings.
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