School of Education

School of Education

A cross-cultural study for adolescent coping strategies

Date: March, 31, 2017 09:08 Age: 201 days

Dr. Sigrun Sveinbjornsdottir a professor emerita from the University of Akureyri in Iceland visited USP, Laucala Campus, on the 17th of March 2017. Lately, she has been doing research in co-operation with USP’ head of School of Education, Professor Govinda Lingam and Associate Professor Einar B. Thorsteinsson from the University of New England in Australia. Some years ago, Dr. Sigrun visited the USP and at that time she and Dr. Lingam gathered information on adolescents ‘coping in Fiji. There is an international interest in adolescents’ health, and since stress is known to have adverse health effects, the role of individual coping strategies are understood to be of importance. In Sigrun´s earlier research on Australian and Icelandic youth and their coping strategies, she found that the youth from both Australia and Iceland used the same coping strategies, there were no cultural differences and based on information from many studies, she developed a cross-cultural adolescent coping scale (Measure of Adolescent Coping Strategies; MACS). The MACS consists of five primary factors of coping which are comprised by two dimensions, one adaptive, and the other maladaptive. There are three adaptive coping factors (Seeking Social Support, Self-Care, and Stoicism/Distraction) and two maladaptive coping factors (Rumination and Acting Out). 

In the Fijian part of the study on adolescents’ ways of coping, the MACS was implemented where more than 800 adolescents took part. The results from that study confirm the factor structure of MACS, which means that the ways of Fijian youth´s coping categorises in the same factors and dimension as do their Australian and Icelandic counterparts. These results indicate further that the MACS is a cross-cultural scale and that there may be an international, human way of adolescent coping, independent of cultures within as well as across categories of Human Development Index (HDI, as defined by UN).

The MACS, including these added results on the reliability and validity across HDI categories, may become useful in at least three ways; (a) as a tool/scale to use in international as well as local youth research, (b) which in turn may provide information for intervention and planning for the better for adolescents’ health and well-being, and (c) for practitioners, within the sectors of health and education, to work with adolescents on an individual face to face basis or in groups. 


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