Co-occurrence and co-variation of stress management with other health risk behaviors

Jessica Lipschitz, University of Rhode Island


Little is known about the mechanism behind recent successes in multiple behavior change. This study provides a preliminary investigation of the possible role of stress management (SM) as a gateway behavior. It integrates and builds upon two bodies of literature: that on multiple behavior change and that linking stress to behavioral health risks. We investigated the co-occurrence and co-variation between SM and five behavioral risks: diet, exercise, alcohol, smoking, and depression management. Data was collected from a sample of 1398 employees of a research hospital in the USA. Behavioral health risks were assessed before and after a multiple behavior change intervention (0 and 6 months). Findings supported the co-occurrence hypothesis. At baseline, individuals who met criteria for poor SM reported significantly more health risk behaviors. Furthermore, there was a significant association between poor SM and risk for diet, lack of exercise, and depression management independently. Results also supported the co-variation hypothesis that changes over time in SM mirrored changes in other health risk behaviors. Specifically, individuals who improved on SM over time displayed significantly fewer health risk behaviors at follow-up than individuals whose SM profile deteriorated or remained poor. Additionally, progress on SM was met with increased odds of improvement on each other health risk behavior, though only findings for depression management and exercise were significant. We also discuss similarities and differences across male, female, Caucasian and minority subgroups. Findings provide preliminary support for a link between SM and behavioral health risk profile as well and a particularly strong link between SM and both energy balance and other affective behavioral risks.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

Jessica Lipschitz, "Co-occurrence and co-variation of stress management with other health risk behaviors" (2011). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1490723.