Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Family Environment


The present study examines relationships between family life events, family cohesion and adaptability and stress outcome for a sample of 1470 families. Several measures of each key variable are used in order to address both methodological and theoretical issues. Independent measures include demographic variables, life events and family cohesion and adaptability, measured by FACES II. Life events measures include events in 12 months, events in 3 years and events weighted for perception of stressfulness. Cohesion and adaptability are used as separate dimensions and together in family types. Measures of family type include individual and family symptomology, measured by the Family Health Status Inventory, and respondent's life satisfaction;Analysis identified positive relationships between life events and outcome and between family cohesion and adaptability and outcome. The choice of the measure of stress outcome affects the relationship with all independent variables. Events weighted for stressfulness and events occurring within the longer time period are more strongly related to outcome than events during a shorter time. Of all the measures of family cohesion and adaptability, the difference between perceptions of present and ideal functioning on these dimensions is most highly related to outcome;A model is proposed linking demographic variables, life events and adaptability and cohesion with stress outcome. Family size affects the number of life events and family symptomology with larger families experiencing more events and childless families experiencing more symptoms. Family symptom scores were computed controlling for family size. The higher the number of family life events, the higher the degree of symptomology and the lower the level of life satisfaction. The mediating influence of cohesion and adaptability between life events and outcome varies according to the outcome measure used. In general, balanced levels of cohesion and adaptability, used together in family type, relate to lower levels of symptomology and higher levels of life satisfaction.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Virginia Olsen Molgaard



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184 pages