Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Sandra Gramling, PhD

Second Advisor

Scott Vrana, PhD

Third Advisor

Sarah Kay Price, PhD


Approximately 60% of college seniors lost at least one family member or friend since beginning college (Cox, Dean, & Kowalski, 2015). Research reveals that bereaved students are more likely than their nonbereaved peers to struggle with academic problems and attrition (Cousins, Servaty-Seib & Lockman, 2017), highlighting the importance of identifying protective factors for this group of individuals. Researchers have identified restoration-oriented coping as a helpful coping mechanism in other samples (Caserta & Lund, 2007; Caserta, Lund, Utza, & de Vries, 2009). Despite qualitative evidence suggesting bereaved undergraduates often employ restoration-oriented coping, no research has formally assessed the effects of restoration-oriented coping in a bereaved undergraduate sample.

This study assessed the effects of restoration-oriented coping on students’ (N=420; 68.8% female; 46.7% white) psychological well-being in a longitudinal design. Data were part of a larger study (“Spit 4 Science”) assessing the development of substance use and emotional

health outcomes in college students. Students were assessed annually; those who reported a loss, had pre-, and post-loss data were included in analysis. Hierarchical multiple linear regressions were conducted and showed restoration-oriented coping was predictive of better psychological well-being and that this relationship was strengthened by social support quality. Extraversion was also predictive of better psychological well-being, while openness and neuroticism were related to poorer psychological well-being. Moreover, neuroticism mediated the relationship between distress at indication of loss and post-loss follow-up.

Further research of restoration-oriented coping efforts among bereaved undergraduates is warranted. Additional resources and support may help to keep students engaged following a loss.


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