Effective and ineffective coping strategies in a low-autonomy work environment

Thomas W. Britt*, Monique Crane, Stephanie E. Hodson, Amy B. Adler

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    The authors examined the effectiveness of different coping strategies in buffering the negative effects of uncontrollable stressors and predicting mental health symptoms in a low-autonomy work environment using a longitudinal design. Soldiers in training indicated the extent to which they engaged in various coping strategies to deal with stressors related to the training environment at 4 different points in time. Factor analyses of soldiers in 2 different countries (i.e., United States and Australia) yielded 5 coping dimensions: active coping, acceptance of demands, seeking social support, humor, and denial/selfcriticism. Among U.S. soldiers in basic training, acceptance of demands and denial/self-criticism interacted with the magnitude of basic-training stressors to predict mental health symptoms (depression and anxiety) at 3 different points during training while controlling for symptoms at the immediate prior time period. Acceptance buffered soldiers from the negative effects of the stressors, whereas denial/ self-criticism exacerbated the effects of the stressors. The results of LGC models also indicated that the slopes of acceptance and active coping were negatively related to the slope of mental health symptoms across training, whereas the slope for denial/self-criticism was positively related to the slope of symptoms. Active coping was less predictive of functioning in the face of stressors and in the prediction of symptoms over time. The results demonstrated that in a low-autonomy occupational setting, acceptance coping was more effective in facilitating good mental health outcomes compared with other coping strategies considered important in prior research (e.g., active coping).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)154-168
    Number of pages15
    JournalJournal of Occupational Health Psychology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


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