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Sense of coherence as a moderator of the effects of stressful life events on health


Study objective: To test the hypothesis that Antonovsky’s concept of sense of coherence (SOC) moderates (that is, buffers) the health impacts of stressful life events in a population based sample.

Design: Multiple linear and Poisson regression analyses of longitudinal data from a national survey of population health were used to examine the relations among SOC, the experience of recent stressful life events (for example, family breakdown, financial crisis, physical abuse), and two outcomes, self reported health status (SRH) and self reported number of physician visits during the previous year.

Setting: General population of Canada.

Participants: Nationally representative sample of household residents aged 30 years of age or greater surveyed in 1998 and 2000 (n = 6505).

Main results: After controlling for age, sex, and previous health status, a significant moderating effect (t = 2.24, p = 0.025) in the expected direction was found on respondents’ SRH. The mean difference in SRH between those who did and did not experience a recent stressful life event was 0.24 (95% CI: 0.16, 0.32) in people with a below average SOC and 0.04 (95% CI: −0.04, 0.11) in people with a higher than average SOC score. The postulated moderating effect of SOC was not significant (t = 1.1, p>0.05) in predicting the number of visits to a physician.

Conclusions: SOC seems to buffer the impact of recent stressful life events on SRH.

  • SOC, sense of coherence
  • SRH, self reported health
  • RLE, recent stressful life event
  • VIF, variance inflation factor
  • sense of coherence
  • psychological stress
  • health status

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