The relationship of sense of coherence to health and work in data processing personnel

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The aim of the present study was to test a model of stress and to examine whether the theoretical construct of sense of coherence (SOC) moderated the relationship between stressors and health-related and work-related outcomes. This construct of SOC was identified by an Israeli medical sociologist, Antonovsky. He maintained that the current focus of research on stress is largely pathogenic in nature. He suggested that it would be of value to shift research more towards that which identifies the origins of health. He consequently developed the term "salutogenesis", which requires people to focus on those factors which promote well-being. He also argued that people are not either sick or well, but rather are located on a continuum between health-ease/dis-ease. With respect to their health, persons will find themselves somewhere along this continuum, where they may shift between the two positions. He then suggests that certain factors contribute to facilitating the movement along this continuum. These factors together form a construct which he calls the SOC. The SOC is comprised of core components. He hypothesizes that someone with a strong SOC is likely to make better sense of the world around him/her, thereby engendering resilience towards the impinging stressors. The person with a weak SOC is likely to capitulate to these stressors · more readily and by succumbing to them is going to increase the likelihood that (s)he will move to the dis-ease end of the continuum. This study attempted to investigate the following research questions, namely, whether (1) the stressors were related to the stress outcomes, (2) the SOC was related to the stressors and outcomes, and (3) the SOC moderated the relationships between stressors and outcomes. In the present study the subjects were drawn from all data processing professionals in a large financial organisation. The respondents (~ = 194) replied to a questionnaire which contained scales which measured a variety of job-related stressors, an SOC scale as well as job-related and health-related outcome variables. Intercorrelations between the stressor, moderator and outcome variables were calculated. Other statistical procedures that were utilized were subgroup analyses and the moderated multiple regression analyses. Partial support for all three research questions was obtained. Four of the six stressors were found to correlate significantly with somatic complaints, thereby suggesting that stressors result in persons feeling the results of stress and reporting them physically. The SOC was found to relate to some of the stressors and outcome variables. This would lend partial support to an interpretation of the SOC as having a main effect relationship to stressor and outcome variables. In the subgroup analyses the results showed that out of a possible 54 relationships, the SOC moderated in only seven of them that the moderated multiple regression (MMR) analyses showed out of 54 possible relationships, the SOC moderated in 12 of them health-related variables. Furthermore, the SOC moderated between six outcome variables and six work-related outcomes. These findings then partially support research question 3, which examined whether the SOC would moderate relationships between stressors and outcome variables. This study was concluded by a discussion of the findings, its implications, and the limitations of this research.

Bibliography: pages 80-86.