Cynthia Mohr

Date of Award

Fall 12-3-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 160 pages)


Nurses -- Job stress -- Psychological aspects, Nursing -- Psychological aspects, Stress management, Stress (Psychology)




Negative events encountered in daily life influence individual well-being. Individuals vary in their reactivity to these events, the extent to which they are behaviorally, physiologically, and psychologically influenced by them (Almeida, 2005; Neupert, Almeida, & Charles, 2007). Reactivity to events in the form of changes in health behavior could represent either an attempt at coping (Cooper, Frone, Russell, & Mudar, 1995) or a stressor-related failure of self-control (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). Such changes in behavior could have later effects on health.

Although a great deal of attention has been paid to both the immediate and long-term effects of stressors on individuals, little is understood about the potential relationship between these immediate and long-term consequences. Exploration of this connection could not only expand the understanding of the relationships between stressors, behavior, and well-being, but also inform intervention strategies.

One important domain in which stressors occur is work; certain occupations such as nursing expose individuals to a greater likelihood of experiencing stressors simply by nature of the tasks and/or environment involved. As a nursing shortage continues, stress is in fact one of the most-often cited reasons for nurses to leave the profession (Cangelosi, Markham, & Bounds, 1998). Using a sample drawn from the Oregon Nurse Retention Project and the relatively novel statistical method of slopes-as-predictors, I examined the relationships between work stressors and nurses' health behaviors (alcohol consumption, diet, exercise) and then used those relationships as predictors of follow-up outcomes (depression, life satisfaction, perceived health).

Significant variability was found for five combinations of stressors and health behaviors, indicating that varying patterns of health behavior reactivity were indeed present in this sample; moreover four of those five stressor-behavior (reactivity) slopes emerged as significant predictors of later health and well-being. Notably, reactivity in the form of increased days of exercise during weeks of greater demands or negative events was associated with lower depression scores, and reactivity in the form of increased days of exercise during weeks of greater conflicts was associated with greater satisfaction with life. Implications of these findings, including the importance of exercise in maintaining well-being, are discussed.

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