Defense Date

2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Sandra Gramling, PhD

Second Advisor

Scott Vrana, PhD

Third Advisor

Sarah Kay Price, PhD

Abstract

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.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

11-28-2017

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