Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

A Short-Term Longitudinal Analysis of Leisure Coping Used by Police and Emergency Response Service Workers

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

A Short-Term Longitudinal Analysis of Leisure Coping Used by Police and Emergency Response Service Workers

Article excerpt

The role of leisure in coping with stress and protecting health has received increased research attention in recent years. A number of studies have been conducted to identify specific aspects of leisure that may contribute to coping with stress and maintaining good health among various population groups (e.g., Caltabiano, 1994, 1995; Compton & Iso-Ahola, 1994; Dattilo, Caldwell, Lee, & Kleiber, 1998; Dupuis & Pedlar, 1995; Dupuis & Smale, 1995; Hull & Michael, 1995; Lee, Dattilo, Kleiber, & Caldwell, 1996; Lobo, 1996; McCormick, 1999; Ouellet, Iso-Ahola, & Bisvert, 1995; Patterson & Coleman, 1996; Trenberth, Dewe, & Walkey, 1999).

This interest in leisure coping research has paralleled the growth of stress and coping research in the social sciences in general (see Hobfoll, Schwarzer, & Chon, 1998; Somerfield & McCrae, 2000). In social science research on general coping processes, specific types of coping resources and strategies have been identified (e.g., problem-focused coping and emotionfocused coping; Lazarus, 1993; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Parker & Endler, 1996), and the impact of these types on the relationship between stress and outcome indicators such as pathology and health has been examined (see Gottlieb, 1997; Lazarus, 1999; Zeidner & Endler, 1996 for reviews). Recently, greater attention has been devoted to examining the processes of adaptation to stress (e.g., a daily process approach to the study of stress and coping; Tennen, Affleck, Armeli, & Carney, 2000; Stone, Shiffman, & De Vries, 1999) and developing clinical interventions to help people deal with stress (e.g., Coyne & Racioppo, 2000; Folkman & Greer, 2000).

A variety of coping scales have been developed that have promoted research on coping and they provide a good description of what are seen as the important dimensions of general coping. For example, the Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences (COPE) inventory has been one of the most frequently used coping instruments (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989). It was constructed to measure a wide range of potential responses to stressors and is based on a model that identifies four primary coping dimensions: (a) problem-focused coping (active coping, planning, and suppression combined), (b) social support and emotion-focused coping (instrumental and emotional social support and venting of emotions combined), (c) acceptance, restraint, and positive reframing combined, and (d) disengagement coping (denial, mental disengagement, behavioral disengagement, and use of religion combined). However, these dimensions deal only with general coping-coping that is not directly associated with leisure. Health and stress-- coping researchers have mostly ignored the role of leisure in helping people cope with stress and have not included leisure as a coping dimension.

Coleman and Iso-Ahola (1993) were among the first researchers to systematically conceptualize the use of leisure as a way of coping. They developed a leisure and health model in which leisure-generated enduring feelings of self-determination and social support are conceptualized as two major dimensions or types of leisure coping. Some evidence to support their model has been found. For example, using a small-scale general population survey (n = 104), Coleman (1993) found evidence for the buffer effect of the leisure-generated self-determination disposition, but the buffer effect of leisure-- generated social support was not found. Iso-Ahola and Park (1996) examined the role of leisure in coping with stress among Taekwondo practitioners and found that leisure companionship (shared leisure activities engaged in primarily for the sake of enjoyment) buffered the effect of life stress on mental illness symptoms (depression), whereas leisure friendship (friendly feelings gained through leisure participation) did the same for physical illness symptoms. They did not, however, find a moderating effect of the selfdetermination disposition. …

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