Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Investigating the grief process related to job loss
by Donahue, Mary P., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2009, 109; 3387119
Abstract (Summary)

Adults in the workforce face various psychosocial challenges over the course of their career. One of the most stressful life experiences is the involuntary loss of employment (Holmes & Rahe, 1967). This study explored psychological reactions to involuntary job loss and the overlap between reactions to job loss and bereavement loss. It was hypothesized that the pattern of symptoms reported by a job loss group would not differ significantly from a bereavement group. In addition, a second research question explored three specific contextual variables (social support, work salience, and time since loss) and their correlation with psychological outcomes of the job loss.

Data was collected from 106 men and women who lost their job involuntarily within the last two years. In hypothesis one, independent t-tests revealed that the job loss group experienced similar or higher degrees of grief compared to the bereavement group. Thus, the job loss group in this study exhibited similar levels of hopelessness, tension, stress, confusion, and physical symptoms. Additionally, the group reported higher degrees of irritation, guilt, withdrawal from social responsibility, oversensitivity, and brooding, than did the reference group.

In the second hypothesis, three hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted. Covariates (age, gender, financial difficulty) were included in the first steps, and contextual variables were added in step two. Results revealed that social support and gender were significantly related to psychological distress, such that higher degrees of felt social support served to lower distress, and women reported experiencing greater psychological distress than men. Financial difficulty was a significant predictor in depression and anxiety, but not in general distress, and work salience was of significant influence only in the anxiety model. Neither age nor time since loss was significantly related to indicators of psychological distress in any of the models.

The results suggest that individuals who lose their jobs may experience a psychological reaction at a similar or even more intense level to those who have had a bereavement loss. It is important for career counselors working with unemployed individuals to assess for psychological functioning and provide social support, in addition to traditional interventions focused on reemployment.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jome, LaRae
Commitee: Hage, Sally, Miller, Matthew
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Educational Psychology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 70/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Career, Grief, Job loss, Unemployment
Publication Number: 3387119
ISBN: 978-1-109-52986-9
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