THE EFFECTS OF FAMILY STRESS ON PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH OF WOMEN (A CASE STUDY OF ABIA STATE)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Womanhood generally refers to the period after the age of 18 years in the life of a female and the term woman is usually used for an adult girl. A woman is the great creation of God, a multifaceted personality with the power of benevolence, integrity, adjustability, and tolerance the lives of women of the current era are much different from the older days. Their main duties are managing the family, caring for and educating her children, cooking and storing food, buying goods, cleaning and maintaining the home, sewing clothes for the family, etc. Women endure higher rates of physical and mental diseases than men at all ages in the world at large (Macintyre et al., 2015; Austad, 2016; Seedat et al., 2016). They experience more days of health-related reduced activity and work cessation, higher rates of hospital stays, and have higher health care costs, even when excluding diseases of the reproductive system (Wingard et al., 2016; Green and Pope, 1999; Case and Paxson, 2005). Stress is defined as Psychological and physical strain or tension generated by physical, emotional, social, economic or occupational circum-stances, events or experience those are difficult to manage or endure. Stress is the basis to live. It is experienced by everybody. Stress is a very complex phenomenon and hence there exists no universally accepted definition of stress rather it has been used widely with varying meaning. Stress has been explained as the process of adjusting to or dealing with circumstances that disrupt, or threaten to disrupt a person‘s physical or psychological functioning (Obikoya, 2012; European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2012; Adegoke, 2011). Traditionally, the major responsibility of women has been perceived to be the maintenance of the family including home and childcare and breadwinning was the main responsibility of men. Most women do not have responsibility only in one domain anymore; they have to balance the competing demands of both work and family domains (Biçaksiz, 2016). Family stress theory can be applied to critical work events that negatively affect the family, such as job loss and chronic work stressors such as role overload, instability, job dissatisfaction, inadequate child care, and shift work. ‘Families' and ‘employment' are inter-related and socially constructed. The functionalist theory of the ‘modern' (or ‘standard') family was a key element of the ‘orthodox consensus' (Goode, 1964; Cheal, 2011) that emerged in sociology after the Second World War and persisted until the1970s and even the 1980s. This model viewed the family as an institution that fulfilled universal prerequisites for the survival of human societies. The smooth functioning of societies depended on the proper articulation of the interdependent parts. Therefore the change in societies will go along with the change in families in order to meet new needs (Crompton, 2016). Messing (2012) suggests two reasons for the historical neglect of women's health issues: women's jobs are safer than men's and health problems identified among women result from their being unfit for the job or unnecessary complaining. With increasing numbers of women in the labor force, it is critical that more attention is given to understanding the effects of family stress and women's health. Women may also have different family stress and health issues than men (Langan-Fox, 2012). Collins et al. (2012) suggest that women may be uniquely affected by family conditions (e.g., exposure to chemicals and reproductive health), disproportionately affected (work and family roles) or differently affected (women's experience of family stress). Overall psychological well-being is correlated with better physical health [Ryff & Singer, 2012; Kolappa, Henderson & Kishore, 2013]. Studies that do test the effects of work and family on both physical and mental health simultaneously tend to use self-reported physical health. This approach is problematic as subjective ratings of health are to a large degree influenced by the informant's emotional states, personality, as well as mental health [Watson & Pennebaker, 2016]. Furthermore, many physical health problems may start with subtle changes in physiological functioning, which individuals may not always be aware of [Seeman, Singer, Rowe, Horwitz & McEwen, 2012]. Holahan, Holahan, and Belk (2014) reported that frequencies of daily stressors can predict the average intensity of vulnerability to diseases in males and high intensity – in females. Scientists associate such differences with different importance of particular life domains for men and women. For women, most stressful events were associated with family while men were more stressed with professional and financial problems (Patton, Goddard, 2016). Aging women demonstrate higher levels of daily stress in all domains (Babakova, 2017). Associations of perceived stress and emotional reactivity can be moderated by gender, and gender effects at different ages can also vary. In modern studies the effects of stress are moderated and mediated by a variety of factors: self-efficacy, self-esteem, optimism, self-acceptance, locus of control, etc. (Aldwin, 2017; Freedy, Hobfoll, 2014). Researchers associate posttraumatic stress with intellect, neuroticism, purpose in life and self-esteem as the predictors of posttraumatic syndrome. Coping with stress is often associated with emotional intelligence and behavioural skills. Particularly emotional stability and coping strategies are associated with better resilience to daily stress (Cox, MacPherson, Enns, McWilliams, 2014). Summarizing, studies suggest that various personality characteristics, specifically involved in emotional processing of the situation, play a significant role in the understanding of stress, perceived stress and one's reaction to it. Another important focus of the present study is the effect of family stress on physical and psychological well-being of women. Researchers report associations of stress and depression as a negative outcome, but few studies address directly the impact of stress on psychological well-being and potential mechanisms of this association. It is important to note that though, depression and psychological wellbeing can be associated, and still, they do not represent two extremes of a continuum (Keyes, 2012; Ryff et al., 2016). It is therefore essential to better understand stress impacts on the physical and psychological health of women.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Implementing family friendly policies and creating a supportive environment can help women to manage their work-family conflict and improve their health outcomes. While much research has been conducted on the occupational stress, little research has examined family stress on women and the effect of these stresses on their physical and psychological health. The current study mainly aims at demonstrating, family stresses and difficulties that women experience. It also tries to imply how to resolve family stresses by promoting effective management practices, improving interpersonal relations at both profession and home that concern women. This study has the potential to provide insight needed by healthcare providers, to decrease family stress of women and prevent family difficulties caused by those stresses. Emotions are included in most human reactions and as such they are included into stress-reactions as well. During stressful events one can feel upset, anxious, distracted etc. At the same time evaluation of an event as stressful is individual and differ due to a variety of factors, particularly, characteristics of the emotional domain. Emotional stability could be one of the possible resources to decrease or mediate the effect of perceived stress on one's functioning. Many studies report associations of perceived stress and depression. Still absence of depression does not imply mental health or any kind of well-being. We aim to analyse if direct effects of family stress on physical and psychological well-being can be found in our sample. The main problem is whether there is correlation between family stress and health well being of women.
1.3AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the effect of family stress on physical and psychological health of women. Other general objectives of the study are:
1. To examine the level of family stress on physical and psychological health of women
2. To examine the types of family stress that affects women's health
3. To examine Stressful events and women's' psychological health
4. To examine the effects of family stress on physical and psychological health of women
5. To examine the relationship between family stress, physical and psychological health of women
6. To examine the coping strategies and psychological well-being of women
1. What is the level of family stress on physical and psychological health of women?
2. What are the types of family stress that affects women's health?
3. What are the stressful events that affects women's' psychological health?
4. What are the effects of family stress on physical and psychological health of women?
5. What is the relationship between family stress, physical and psychological health of women?
6. What are the coping strategies and psychological well-being of women?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant effect of family stress on physical and psychological health of women
H1: There is a significant effect of family stress on physical and psychological health of women
H0: There is no significant relationship between family stress, physical and psychological health of women.
H1: There is a significant relationship between family stress, physical and psychological health of women
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study can be significant because it will contribute to the growing body of work focused on understanding women's health. It adds to the knowledge base of women's health by providing a descriptive summary of the frequency and nature of daily health symptoms experienced by a national sample of adult women. Specifically, this study documents the occurrence of specific types of daily symptoms experienced, as well as how these symptoms differ in daily incidence across the life course of women. The study will go beyond simply demonstrating that the occurrence of family stress has a significant role in the lives of women, but was able to probe into the specific aspects of daily stressors that play a role in physical and psychological health. This is meaningful information in that it allows us to have a better understanding of the qualities and mechanisms of family stressors through which women's health status can be affected. Furthermore, this study is also an important part for the researcher‘s accomplishment and knowledge generation. This paper can be used as useful citation source for many other researches or practitioners who are interested in studying the effect of family stress on health status of women.
1.7SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the effect of family stress on physical and psychological health of women, a case study of Abia state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Physical Health: Physical health is defined as the condition of your body, taking into consideration everything from the absence of disease to fitness level. Physical health is critical for overall well-being, and can be affected by: Lifestyle: diet, level of physical activity, and behaviour (for instance, smoking)
Psychological Health: Is operationally defined as scores of respondents on three indicators (i.e. anxiety, depression and stress) of Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale and Parental Stress Scale.
Stress: Stress is operationally demarcated as scores of defendants on Parental Stress Scale (Berry & Jones 1995). High score would mean high level of stress and low scores would indicate low level of stress.
Coping Strategies: Coping strategies were operationally defined as scores on Brief COPE (Carver (2012), which is assessed in terms of Problem-Focused Coping, Religious/Denial Coping, Positive Coping and Active Avoidance Coping. The high score on separate subscale is suggestive of more use of that specific coping strategy.
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