The relationship of work stressors, coping and social support to psychological symptoms among female secretarial employees

David L. Snow, Suzanne C. Swan, Chitra Raghavan, Christian M. Connell, Ilene Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


A conceptual framework is advanced that assumes that psychological symptoms emerge within multiple contexts, such as the workplace, and are influenced by the interplay of individual and situational risk and protective factors over time. This framework was utilized to examine the impact of work and work-family role stressors, coping, and work-related social support on psychological symptoms among 239 female, secretarial employees in the USA, using both cross-sectional and longitudinal structural equation models. Work stressors and avoidance coping were viewed as risk factors, and active coping and social support as protective factors. Work stressors contributed substantially to increased symptoms, primarily through a direct pathway in the cross-sectional model, but also indirectly to both Time 1 and Time 2 symptoms (4 months later) via pathways through active and avoidance coping. In both models, avoidance coping also predicted increased symptoms. Avoidance coping also served to partially mediate the relationship between work stressors and symptoms in the cross-sectional model, but not in the longitudinal model. Active coping was related to fewer psychological symptoms in both models, thereby reducing the negative effect of work stressors on symptoms. Likewise, work-related social support served an indirect protective function by contributing to lower levels of reported work stressors and greater use of active coping. Work stressors but not active coping mediated the relationship between social support and symptoms. Implications for future research and workplace interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-263
Number of pages23
JournalWork and Stress
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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