The relationship between negative life events, psychological distress and life satisfaction: a population-based study
- 977 Downloads
Negative life events may increase psychological distress and reduce life satisfaction (LS). This study investigates associations between negative life events and both positive and negative indicators of mental health and explores the extent to which these associations are buffered by sense of mastery and perceived social support.
Data were obtained from a large (N = 4,823), nationally representative sample of Norwegians aged 16 and older. Psychological distress was measured by The Hopkins Symptom Check List (HSCL-25), LS by a single question on overall satisfaction with life and negative life events by a 12-item list of threatening experiences. Moderating variables, sense of mastery and social support, were measured using standard instruments.
Adjusting for age, sex, education and income, all of the negative life events were significantly associated with both psychological distress and LS, with the exception of events pertinent to bereavement. Of the life events examined, financial strain constituted the strongest predictor. Overall, negative life events were more closely associated with psychological distress than LS. Altogether, negative life events explained 22.3 and 11.4 % of the variance in psychological distress and LS, respectively. Sense of mastery, but not perceived social support, emerged as a moderating factor between financial strain and both psychological distress and LS.
Negative life events are associated with higher psychological distress and lower LS, but the strength of the associations varies across events. The impact of financial strain and conflict appears particularly strong, but may be moderated by self-perceived mastery.
KeywordsMental health problems Life stressors Psychological distress Well-being Life satisfaction
Hopkins System Check List
Life threatening events
We would like to thank Statistics Norway for handling the data collection as well as the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, division of Mental Health for providing us with access to the data, workspace and support. Rune Johansen at Norwegian Institute of Public Health, division of Mental Health has contributed with useful advice with regards to the statistical analyses.
- 7.Luhmann, M., Hofman, W., Eid, M., & Lucas, R. E. (2012). Subjective well-being and adaptation to life events: A meta-analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102, 592–615.Google Scholar
- 18.Cobb, S. (1976). Social support as a moderator of life stress. Psychosomatics Medicine, 38, 300–314.Google Scholar
- 24.Sandanger, I., Moun, T., Ingebrigtsen, G., Sørensen, T., Dalgard, O. S., & Bruusgaard, D. (1999). The meaning and significance of caseness: The Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 and the composite international diagnostic interview II. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 34, 53–59.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 29.Dalgard, O. S., Dowrick, C., Lehtinen, V., Vazquez-Barquero, J. L., Casey, P., Wilkinson, G., et al. (2006). Negative life events, social support and gender difference in depression: A multinational community survey with data from the ODIN study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 41(6), 444–451.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 31.Meltzer, H. (2003). Development of a common instrument for mental health. In A. Nosikov & C. Gudex (Eds.), EUROHIS: Developing common instruments for health surveys. Amsterdam: IOS Press.Google Scholar
- 32.European Commission. (2003). Eurobarometer report: Mental well-being. Brussels, May 2003.Google Scholar
- 34.Wahlbeck, K. (2006). MINDFUL—final technical implementation report. Finland: STAKES.Google Scholar
- 37.Wanberg, C. R. (2012). The individual experience of unemployment. In S. T. Fiske, D. L. Schacter & S. E. Taylor (Eds.), Annual Review of Psychology, Vol 63 (pp. 369–396).Google Scholar
- 42.Mirowski, J., & Ross, C. E. (2003). Social causes of psychological distress. Hawthorne, CA: Aladine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- 56.Li, L., Roberts, I., & Power, C. (2001). Physical and psychological effects of injury. European Journal of Public Health, 11, 81–83.Google Scholar