Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Stress is the main contributing risk factor in the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes as well as mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms. In particular, job stress may undermine the productivity, morale, relationships, and well-being of employees. Mounting research demonstrate that leisure can contribute to one’s health and well-being by enhancing a stress coping mechanism. The primary purpose of this study is to investigate stress coping and health-promoting behaviors in conjunction with leisure by comparing three types of leisure (active, passive, and social). In addition, the associations between types of leisure motivation and types of leisure, personal attributes influencing types of leisure, and personal attributes moderating the impact of types of leisure motivation on active leisure, were examined. A cross-sectional study was conducted by distributing electronic surveys containing five instruments (Types of Leisure, Leisure Motivation, Coping Self-Efficacy, Perceived Stress, and Health-Promoting Behaviors) along with a demographic questionnaire to 3739 Southern Illinois University (SIU) full-time employees. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) was used to provide the theoretical framework for this study. Perceived stress, coping self-efficacy, and health-promoting behaviors in conjunction with types of leisure were examined. SDT, which mainly posits human psychological well-being induced by fostering intrinsic motivation as opposed to extrinsic motivation, derived research questions with respect to the relationships between types of leisure, types of leisure motivation, and health-promoting behaviors. In addition, the influences of types of leisure motivation on alleviation of perceived stress were examined by comparing the types of leisure (active, passive, and social). For the demographic variables, the influences of personal attributes such as age and BMI on types of leisure were examined. Lastly, whether perceived health status moderates the effect of the type of leisure motivation on active leisure was investigated. Demographic data showed that out of 605 (N = 605) who participated in the survey, 448 participants completed all the survey questions. Statistical analyses which employ descriptive, Pearson correlation, simple/simultaneous regression, and multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) were performed to investigate the research questions. The analyses revealed that all three types of leisure (active, passive, and social) were positively correlated with each other, coping self-efficacy, health-promoting behaviors and negatively correlated with perceived stress. Also, coping self-efficacy significantly predicted health-promoting behaviors as well as perceived stress. With respect to the associations between types of leisure motivation and types of leisure, intrinsic leisure motivation toward stimulation had the strongest significant association with active leisure. Intrinsic leisure motivation toward knowledge had the strongest significant association with passive leisure. Extrinsic leisure motivation identified had the strongest significant association with social leisure. With regard to types of leisure motivation influencing perceived stress, intrinsic leisure motivation toward external regulation was the strongest significant predictor for elevated levels of perceived stress even after taking into account intrinsic leisure motivation toward stimulation and extrinsic leisure motivation identified. In addition, extrinsic leisure motivation identified significantly predicted lowered levels of perceived stress. With regard to the association between types of leisure motivation and health-promoting behaviors, extrinsic leisure motivation identified had the strongest significant association with health-promoting behaviors. For the demographic variables in conjunction with types of leisure, females exhibited a significantly higher score on social leisure than males and education levels influenced active leisure, indicating that employees with a master's degree had a significantly higher score on active leisure than those with bachelor's degree or some college/high school diploma. Perceived health status significantly predicted active leisure, indicating that university employees with higher levels of perceived health status were more likely to participate in active leisure than those with lower levels of perceived health status. Lastly, the interaction between perceived health status and intrinsic leisure motivation toward stimulation was significant, indicating that the impact of intrinsic leisure motivation toward stimulation on active leisure differed depending on perceived health status. In other words, the impact of intrinsic leisure motivation toward stimulation was significantly greater in university employees with low perceived health status as compared to those with high perceived health status. This study seems to be meaningful in suggesting that leisure can be a contributing factor for health possibly through reducing perceived stress and enhancing health behaviors. Also, meaningful engagement in leisure may play a role as an effective stress coping strategy, which may lead to long term health-promoting behaviors by fostering intrinsic motivation. Personal attributes such as age, BMI, education level, and perceived health status may impact participating in active leisure. Furthermore, perceived health status may moderate the impact of intrinsic leisure motivation toward stimulation on active leisure. Further research comparing types of leisure impacting stress and health behaviors with more well-refined types of leisure scale is warranted.
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