Coping and Health

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In the present study, Low Copers reported the lowest levels of perceived stress, which indicated that they have coped less intensively because of less negative stress. As such, the results provided meaningful conclusions regarding the coping profile of Lower Copers regarding association with perceived stress. Consequently, students may be able to protect themselves against stress even if they use very few coping strategies when their resources exceed the demands of stressful situations Lazarus and Folkman, The present study is the first to investigate the relationships among coping profiles and health-related behaviors such as physical activity and substance consumption coffee, alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and medicine.

The findings complete previous studies who have simply examined the association between isolated coping strategies with physical activity or substance consumption Naquin and Gilbert, ; Wills and Hirky, ; Allison et al. They revealed that students who endorsed a coping profile of Adaptive Copers and Low Copers were less likely to use substance except alcohol for Low Copers and more likely to practice physical activity.

Conversely, students who endorsed a coping profile of High Copers and Avoidant Copers were more likely to use substance except alcohol for High Copers and more likely to fail to attain the physical activity recommendations. These results supported Wijndaele et al. As such, the present study highlighted that not only certain coping strategies related to unhealthy behaviors, but also the profile of coping as a whole.

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Thus, it seems more valuable to consider the profile or combination of strategies that individuals endorsed in relationships with health-related behaviors. In addition, research has consistently demonstrated that students use substance for coping reasons e. Overall, the results of the present study are consistent with previous research in the nascent coping literature that employed cluster analysis e.

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People who have a relative reliance on avoidance, distraction, as well as support seeking coping and de-emphasize problem solving and cognitive restructuring coping tend to report greater psychological distress and negatives health outcomes. In this line, the coping profile of Adaptive Copers may act as a buffer against unhealthy behaviors Thompson et al.

The Association of Coping to Physical and Psychological Health Outcomes: A Meta-Analytic Review

In the present study, group membership was significantly related to gender. Most women were in High Copers group and most men were in Low Copers group. Similar gender differences in coping profiles have been reported previously [e. Rijavec and Brdar, ; Wijndaele et al. As highlighted by Rijavec and Brdar Rijavec and Brdar, , a coping pattern with high scores on all strategies is very frequent for women High Copers , but not for men.

Conversely, a coping pattern with low scores on all strategies Low Copers is more frequent for men than for women. Further, past research has found that college women, unlike men, reported feeling more stress Abouserie, ; Hudd et al. They also used more social support compared with college men Dwyer and Cummings, Therefore, the results of the present study were consistent with the coping literature.

The High Copers group reported also the highest levels of perceived stress and engaged in unhealthy behaviors, such as not exercising and smoking [e. In contrast, the Low Copers group reported the lowest levels of perceived stress, and the adoption of healthy behavior such as exercising Rijavec and Brdar, ; Wijndaele et al. However, Low Copers reported also alcohol consumption. Gender also appeared to influence motivations for alcohol consumption [e. Cooper et al. Finally, the Active Copers group tends to include an equal number of men and women.

Research has not found a clear pattern of gender differences in college students' use of problem-solving strategies to cope with stress [e. Brougham et al. The present study exhibited a number of conceptual, methodological and practical strengths that improve the usefulness of coping data. This study contributed to the increased interest of researchers to investigate coping profiles simultaneously rather than in isolation.

As such, researchers may gain a deeper understanding of coping by identifying subgroups of individuals based on their coping profiles. Students at risk of suffering from stress and engaging in unhealthy behaviors to cope with stressful situations should be identified based on their coping profiles i.

High Copers and Avoidant Copers. This result implies that teaching of additional or effective use of coping skills and expanding individuals' coping repertoires may be of greater use than simply trying to limit avoidance coping Kaluza, Identifying these high-risk groups of students enables interventions to be developed and targeted appropriately in a cost-effective manner in large population undergoing a critical time in their development Musselman and Rutledge, Accordingly, cluster analysis has the potential to make a major contribution to applied health psychology research, as it can identify groups that might best benefit from interventions Clatworthy et al.

In addition, cluster analysis approach may have an advantage over more traditional statistical techniques e. For example, Kaluza Kaluza, , who identified distinct coping clusters and tailored stress-management training according to cluster-specific needs, has demonstrated this strategy successfully. Benefits were found by balancing or broadening one-sided coping profiles of individuals who were initially low in particular coping strategies. Clearly, the present study provided new knowledge that may help scholars develop prevention and intervention university programs.

In spite of its contributions, the present study is not exempt from certain limitations. First, the use of self-reported measures might lead to a possible social desirability bias. Disclosing substance consumption may be a sensitive issue for students, even when anonymity is guaranteed. In order to facilitate the students' response to the survey, short measures of consumption have been used. Therefore, the results of the present study have to be replicated with validated measures of consumption.

Second, a one-dimensional perspective of perceived stress was adopted, whereas Lazarus Lazarus, highlighted the usefulness to adopt a multidimensional perspective of perceived stress i. Future research needs to consider this multidimensional perspective to better examine the relationships between coping profiles and stress appraisals.

Third, the cross-sectional design of this study prohibits statements of causality. In order to deal with these problems, prospective design using cluster analysis procedure and coping profiles is needed to elucidate causal relationships. This is particularly important regarding the bounds between coping strategies and stress levels in order to give more credit to the idea that certain coping profiles are actually more adaptive compared with others in a given context. Fourth, a dispositional perspective was used to examine students' coping profiles while situation-based factors, such as specific environmental demands, were not considered.

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As such, longitudinal studies are necessary to determine the stability of identified coping clusters over time and capture the variability in coping that likely exists between and within situations. A final limitation concerns the almost exclusive reliance on French undergraduates as the population of participants in the current study. To be able to generalize these findings, this study should be replicated with a more comprehensive sample of students e. Using cluster analysis approach, this study adds to a growing literature on coping by identifying students' coping profiles and their associations with perceived stress and health-related behaviors.

Clearly, the coping profiles of Avoidant Copers and High Copers comprised students at risk for experiencing stress and engaging in unhealthy behaviors. The identification of coping profiles in relation to health outcomes represents an important step in developing preventive interventions. Health professionals, by acknowledging group coping profiles, may be better able to predict those who are at an increased risk for suffering from stress and engaging in unhealthy behaviors and subsequently tailor prevention and intervention efforts to match coping tendencies of the target population.

Overall, these findings suggested that future research should focus on coping profiles in order to provide a deeper understanding of how different individuals cope with stress and identify targeted groups most likely to benefit from specific health promotion and prevention campaigns. We would like to thank all students who have participated in the study, and the students who have pilot tested the questionnaire. We thank the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the University of Montpellier 1 and Montpellier 3, as well as the deans of the Medical School, the Dental School and the Sports sciences program, who approved this study.

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Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents. Coping profiles, perceived stress and health-related behaviors: a cluster analysis approach Julie Doron. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar. Raphael Trouillet. Dorine Neveu.

Coping with Stress, Anxiety and Depression

Cite Citation. Permissions Icon Permissions. Abstract Using cluster analytical procedure, this study aimed i to determine whether people could be differentiated on the basis of coping profiles or unique combinations of coping strategies ; and ii to examine the relationships between these profiles and perceived stress and health-related behaviors.

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