Date of Award

Spring 1999

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kipfmueller, Mark

Second Advisor

Melchert, Tim

Third Advisor

Johnson, John


The effect of persistent chronic stress on health and well-being can be devastating. Accumulations of daily stressors undermine physical health by contributing to fatigue, muscle strain, by increasing episodes of chronic illnesses and by challenging immunological defenses (Hafen, Karren, Frandsen, & Smith, 1996; Porth, 1994). Accumulations of daily stressors also undermine mental health by persistently challenging an individual's sense of control and mastery over domain-specific areas. Eventually, reduced self-esteem diminishes effectiveness in maintaining personal healthcare regimes, and chronic stressors become more potent influences on health and well-being. For women, persistent exposure to chronic stressors has been linked to increased morbidity rates, increased chronic illness, and poorer mental health (Taylor, 1999). Measurement of chronic stress has typically focused on assessing the influence of stressful situations on mental health. Aneshensel (1992), Pearlin, (1993), and Kaplin (1996) have challenged this practice suggesting that assessment devices have neglected the influence of social structures in creating chronic stress. Burke (1996) and Kaplan have further proposed that this influence is seen quite clearly in stress arising from the inability to fulfill the normative expectations of social roles. In an effort to improve measurement of chronic stress and to test theories asserting the influence of social structures in creating chronic stress, a normative stress scale was developed and tested on wives of clergymen and seminary students. It was theorized that these wives as well as wives of professionals such as doctors, lawyers, organizational officials and politicians experience stress from normative expectations through exposure to the expectations associated with their husbands' status positions. In view of the negative influence of chronic stress on mental health, factors affecting mental health were also investigated to determine the extent to which the interaction of age with psychosocial variables or the interaction of age with demographic variables differentially affected the emotional health of women in this population...



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