Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science

Dissertation Committee

Mary P. Quayhagen, RN, DNSc, Chairperson; June S. Lowenberg, RN, PhD; Patricia W. Anderson, PhD


Coping mechanism, family, gender, marriage, nursing, Social psychology, Stress management


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of age, education, perceived child care support, social support, role conflict, coping and marital adjustment on family functioning as experienced by multiple role women and their spouses. The family has long been recognized as the most important contextual influence in human growth and development. Nurses have been working with families for generations, especially in community and mental health nursing. It is only in the last decade, however, that there has been an increasing interest in family research among nurses reflected in a trend away from individual-focused studies and toward a "whole family" perspective. The theoretical framework for this study was derived from the stress and coping paradigm of Lazarus and Folkman (1984) with support of the linkages offered through the literature review. The correlational design of this investigation was based on a temporally ordered causal recursive model. One hundred multiple role women and their spouses were selected using a computerized random sampling from membership listings of employed members of a large organization. This sample provided a cross-section of many professional disciplines. Descriptive, correlational, and inferential statistics were used to analyze the data. Family cohesion, as a component of family functioning, had 50% of the variance explained, with family role conflict and marital adjustment being the strongest predictor variables for the total sample of men and women. A comparison of the results by gender revealed that social support and coping were more predictive for men, while interrole conflict was more predictive for women. Marital adjustment was the most potent predictor for both groups. Family cohesion, as a component of family functioning, had 43% of the variance explained for the men, and 52% of the variance explained for the women by the predictor variables. Further examination of group differences revealed that women reported significantly more perceived emotional support from relatives, friends, and neighbors than men, while men reported more perceived emotional and informational support from work supervisors than did the women respondents. Women reported more frequent use of confrontive and fantasy coping patterns than men.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons