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Role strain experienced by the employed mother: Providing an intervention

1 July 1985


This study investigated role strain as experienced by employed mothers and examined the efficacy of a workshop as an intervention to reduce role strain. The workshop emphasized effective coping strategies as identified by the research literature; raising self-esteem; exploring traditional/non-traditional sex role beliefs; and examining theories of energy. Pre- and post-treatment measures were taken from nineteen workshop participants and nineteen control group participants. Instruments used consisted of: the Bern Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (TSCS), the Dual Career Questionnaire, a workshop evaluation questionnaire, and a demographic questionnaire' designed to elicit information regarding personal characteristics of the respondents. The sample consisted of married and single mothers who were either employed or in school and who were living in the Salem, Oregon area. They experienced varying degrees of role strain, as they balanced such multiple roles as wife, mother, student, and employee. Findings indicated that self-esteem correlated very highly (inverse relationship) with role strain. Women who were classified as undifferentiated by the BSRI scored highest on role strain, while women who were classified as masculine scored lowest on role strain. Self-esteem scores did not change appreciably during the course of the workshop. However, reported levels of role strain were reduced for both the treatment and control groups following the workshop. Workshop participants showed an increase in their estimated confidence to cope with role strain. The discussion proposed that the workshop seemed to be one means of reducing.role strain, and important factors in that process may include: increased awareness of what contributes to or attenuates role strain; the reduced sense of isolation provided by group participation; and choosing to focus on the problem. Since the control group members' level of role strain was also reduced, these factors may also have applied to them. Recommendations were made to refine the workshop. Clinical implications and recommendations for further research were discussed.


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