• Stress buffers for adults in two rural Maryland counties

      Rother, Raymond Richard; Nucho, Aina O. (1993)
      The purpose of this study was to investigate, in a rural population, a variety of stress buffers that have been investigated elsewhere. These buffers were first analyzed to determine their effect on the well-being of adults in two rural counties of Maryland. Next, comparisons were made between rural, urban, clinic and general rural population samples. Finally, suggestions were made about the importance of these findings for social workers in rural areas. A questionnaire comprised of the General Well-Being Questionnaire (GWBQ), Sense of Coherence Questionnaire (SOCQ) and several demographic questions was mailed to a random sample of households by telephone listing. There were 202 useable questionnaires returned (62% return rate) by nearly equal numbers of male and female heads of household. The questionnaire was also completed by 31 adults requesting treatment from the mental health clinics in the two counties. A separate hierarchical multiple regression was performed for each of 23 buffer variables represented in subscales of the GWBQ and the SOCQ. The other subscales in the GWBQ were used as measures of well-being and stressor level. Well-being was considered the dependent variable with stressor level and the 23 possible buffers all independent variables. For each of the buffer variables, respondents' well-being was regressed first on stressor level, second on buffer variable (main effect) and third on the cross product of stressor level x buffer variable (buffer effect). Buffer and stressor variables were considered to have a main effect if their respective effects on a person's well-being were independent of each other and a buffer effect if their effects on a person's well-being were interdependent. For the general rural population studied, 12 of the buffer variables showed a main effect on well-being (p =.001) with 7 accounting for more than 12% of the variance in well-being above that accounted for by stressor level. For the clinic sample, 8 buffer variables had a main effect (p =.001). None of the buffer variables showed a buffer effect beyond the main effect. Sense of coherence (two versions), social support, sense of purpose, effectence, present time perspective and direct coping style were factors that contributed to people's well-being. These factors deserve the attention of social workers and other mental health professionals working in rural areas.