Coping with perceived future stressors : the effects of a proactive coping writing intervention
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The present study proposed an integrated coping framework that included both personal and social resources and explored the interaction of these constructs with future-oriented, proactive coping processes. Expressive writing was utilized as a cost-effective and minimally intrusive intervention to encourage individuals to facilitate proactive coping in cognitive and behavioral domains. One-hundred and eighty five participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) Proactive Writing (N = 63) to facilitate processing of a significant future stressor that is anticipated but is not certain to occur in the immediate future, 2) Expressive Writing (N = 53) to facilitate processing of the most difficult problem or situation experienced in the previous twelve months, or 3) Control Writing (N = 69) regarding time management as a credible placebo condition. The current study had three empirical aims. First, the current study experimentally tested whether implementing expressive writing as a proactive coping intervention increased proactive coping. Second, the current study tested whether proactive coping was positively related to adaptive functioning. Third, the current study vii examined reactive coping and perceived social support as mediators of the proactive coping to adaptive functioning relationship. Findings indicated that proactive coping and cognitive and behavioral coping efforts were associated with several clinical outcomes in the domains of psychological affect, life satisfaction, and physical health. Significant group differences in days per week of exercise and overeating behavior were present following the intervention, with a marginally significant trend found for social network size. Percentage of approach-oriented cognitive and behavioral coping towards anticipated and extant stressors, and perceptions of available support, enacted support, and satisfaction with one's social network were examined for mediational properties. Overall findings did not support the proposed mediation model of proactive coping. Implications of findings, limitations and future directions are discussed.