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Factors affecting the psychological distress among unemployed and re-employed individuals

Tarik Tuncay (Department of Social Work, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey)
Bugra Yildirim (Department of Social Work, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 14 September 2015



The purpose of this paper is to examine coping strategies, social support, and psychological distress for comparable samples of unemployed (n=389) and re-employed (n=270) individuals. The authors hypothesized that problem-focused coping and higher levels of social support would be associated with lower levels of psychological distress for unemployed vs re-employed participants.


The cross-sectional design and the convenience sampling method were used in the study.


Although unemployed participants reported poorer coping, higher levels of psychological distress, and lower levels of social support compared to re-employed participants; social support and coping strategies predicted psychological distress. Multiple regression analyses suggest that emotion-focused coping strategies were related to higher levels of psychological distress, whereas social support and problem-focused coping strategies were related to lower levels of psychological distress. Social support accounted for more variance in participants’ psychological distress above and beyond all other variables. Single and unemployed participants of the study used less problem-focused, more emotion-focused coping, and perceived lower social support than married unemployed. Gender and marital status of the unemployed were also significantly associated with psychological distress. In addition, older and less educated unemployed participants perceived less social support and used emotion-focused coping more frequently.

Practical implications

The findings indicated that being female, single, older, and low educated are the potential sociodemographic risk factors for the psychosocial well-being of unemployed people.


The favourable effects of certain coping strategies suggest the potential benefits of interventions to reduce reliance on emotion-focused coping and stimulate more problem-focused strategies in order to enhance psychological well-being.



This research was supported in part by a Grant (No. 6482) from the Hacettepe University Scientific Research Projects Coordination Unit.


Tuncay, T. and Yildirim, B. (2015), "Factors affecting the psychological distress among unemployed and re-employed individuals", Career Development International, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 482-502.



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