• Coping Strategies and Women's Development During the Age-30 Transition

      Gramling, Lou; Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing; National Institute of Health; National Center for Nursing Research (1991-05)
      Existing models of adult development are derived primarily from observations of men and are not supported when observations are made of women. Empirical evidence concerning women’s coping strategies is inconclusive. A qualitative research design is ideally suited to study development and coping strategies as described by women in the context of their lives. The purpose of this study was to identify and describe coping strategies and transitions in women’s development. The Age-30 Transition was selected to focus the study on one developmental period as there is preliminary evidence that this period is a critical time in women’s lives. This field research used the ethnographic interview and analysis techniques to explore the life transitions of women between the ages of 25 and 35 years. A combination of network and nominated sampling techniques were used. Data collection included a minimum of three tap-recorded interviews with 10 good informants. The ethnographic techniques of structured and unstructured interviews were used to elicit thick descriptions of women’s coping and development during the Age-30 Transition. Data analysis was concurrent with data collection so that the researcher’s interpretations could be validated by the informants. The significant themes of women’s development during this age period were: (a) on-going separation from family, (b) relationships with men, (c) having or not having children, (d) work issues, (e) sadness, and (f) developing a life philosophy. Women reported a developmental change around the Age-30 Transition. They described differences in perception and meaning after Age-30, although the majority of the significant themes of the twenties continued into the thirties. Women described a variety of coping strategies that can be categorized as permissive avoidance, confrontation, diversion, and philosophical. Changes in coping related to appraisal and the use of coping strategies were detected after the Age-30 Transition, although the women did not describe specific changes in types of coping strategies.