Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Don Schuster


During the first half of this century, physiologists, physicians, and psychologists began to realize that stressful events experienced by individuals over the course of their lives were in some manner related to overall physical and psychological well-being. It was noted, however, that not all individuals who were exposed to high levels of stress developed symptoms of stress-induced somatic or psychological illness. As a consequence, a more recent trend in stress-illness outcome research involves attempts to determine the situational, personality, and constitutional factors that account for these differences in reactions to stress;At no time since the worldwide depression of the early 1930s have farmers, as a group, experienced financial difficulty as severe as that produced by economic events of the decade of the 1980s. That economic ruin or near-ruin is a profound source of stress in the lives of farmers is now apparent. This study examined the contingency factors explaining, at least in part, why some Iowa farmers have experienced occupational stress-induced somatic and psychological dysfunction and others have not;The specific personality and situational factors hypothesized to moderate the occupational stress-illness outcome relationship for farmers were social support, coping, hardiness, and Type A behavior pattern. The results achieved indicated that coping, as measured in this study, was a two-dimensional construct consisting of both effective behaviors and behaviors (smoking, eating, and drinking more) which might exacerbate illness. Moderated multiple regression analyses revealed that these ineffective coping behaviors moderated the stress-physical health relationship for farmers, as did effective (cognitive and behavioral) coping, and hardiness. Social support was found to moderate only the stress-mental health relationship. Additionally, path analysis showed that avoidant (ineffective) coping mediated the relationship between work stress and mental health for Iowa farmers. Type A behavior pattern was found to have essentially no impact on the stress illness outcome for farmers.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Debbie Linn Wells



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

564 pages