A Quarter Century of Community Psychology

pp 205-235

Community Settings as Buffers of Life Stress? Highly Supportive Churches, Mutual Help Groups, and Senior Centers

  • Kenneth I. Maton

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Examined the stress-buffering potential of community settings in three studies. The first study focused on economic stress among 162 members of three churches, the second on bereavement stress among 80 members of eight mutual help groups for bereaved parents, and the third on bereavement stress among 85 members of six senior centers. In each study, high and low support settings were defined by aggregate measures. For churches and mutual help groups, high life stress individuals reported greater well-being in high support than low support settings while low life stress individuals did not differ across settings. Tangible aid receipt (churches) and friendship development (mutual help groups) contributed to the stress-buffering findings. For senior centers, aggregate setting support was related to well-being in main effect fashion. The implications for inquiry and action at the community setting level of analysis are discussed.