Examining the relationship between coping strategies, perceived social support and mental health in psychosocial and environmental problems

  • Constantinos Togas
  • Foteini Mavrogiorgi
  • George Alexias


Introduction: Coping strategies are used in stressful situations and have been examined in many studies. However, very few studies have examined the association between coping strategies, perceived social support and mental health in psychosocial and environmental problems in the general population.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with a sample of 482 individuals (n=482) from Greece’s general population. A composite questionnaire was used, including demographic information, the Coping Strategy Indicator (CSI), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) and the General Health Questionnaire-28. The program SPSS 21.0 was used for data analysis.
Results: Mean age of the participants=38.67 years (M = 38.67, SD = 13.20, Min = 18, Max = 71, Range=53), men=36.9 %, women=63.1. Mean score of the CSI scales: Problem Solving=23.60, Seeking Social Support=23.33, Avoidance-Distraction=9.82, Avoidance-Withdrawal=8.45. Mean score of MSPSS=67.79 and of the GHQ-28=23.71. Younger participants had higher score in Seeking Social Support (F4, 462=3.112, p=0.015) and lower score in Avoidance-withdrawal (F4, 467=3.265, p=0.012) scales. There were no significant differences between the type of stressors in the CSI scales score. Concerning the GHQ-28, women had higher score than men in Somatic symptoms (t=-2.875, df=476, p=0.004) and in Anxiety/Insomnia (t=-2.667, df=474, p=0.007) subscales. Illiterate-graduates of primary school had higher score in GHQ-28 (F3, 464=3.382, p=0.018) and in Anxiety/Insomnia subscale (F3,470=5.277, p=0.001). The type of stressor was found to be significant in severe depression subscale (F9, 472=2.603, p=0.006). Αge correlated significantly only with Seeking Social Support (r=-.129, p<0.05), while a positive correlation was found between Avoidance-Withdrawal and GHQ-28 (r=.117, p<0.05) and a negative one between MSPSS and GHQ-28 (r=-.283, p<0.01).
Discussion: Avoidance-withdrawal coping strategy and low perceived social support predict mental health problems (anxiety/insomnia, social dysfunction, somatic symptoms, depression) in general population. Differences in coping strategies are associated with age, age group, gender and in mental health problems with age group, gender, educational level and type of stressor. Future research is suggested, so that further clarification of the study’s results to be possible.
Key-words: Stress, coping strategies, social support, mental health, psychosocial problems.

Research article