Coping with Long-Term Unemployment
Qualitative data were collected from a sample of long-term unemployed age 47-59 from the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) dislocated worker program (N=16) who reported positive well-being on the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Structured interview questions generated detailed data on coping strategies. Data were analyzed using MAXQDA10 software. Key coping strategies associated with positive well-being included productive use of time on meaningful activities, conserving financial resources, social supports, and cognitive maneuvers. Findings suggest that employing certain behavioral coping strategies together safeguards subjective well-being during long-term unemployment and enables individuals to remain active in their job search. Procedures Participant selection and data collection occurred in two phases. Phase 1 involved selecting a sample of 277 candidates who met the selection criteria. They were identified from the WIA Title I dislocated worker program (July 2009 – August 2011) and the unemployment insurance program. In Phase 1, prospective participants were invited by letter to participate. The letter included the instructions for completing the participant Informed Consent Form. The form described risks and benefits of the study, confidentiality, and anonymity. The letter also included the (GHQ-12). Upon receipt of completed participant solicitation materials and the Informed Consent Form, the GHQ-12 was scored using the cutoff score of 3/4. Those scoring a 3 or lower were categorized into the positive subjective well-being group and those scoring a 4 or higher were categorized into a group reporting negative well-being. Candidates exhibiting positive subjective well-being based on their GHQ-12 score were contacted by telephone and/or mail and invited to participate in an interview. In this way, a purposeful sample of 16 participants was selected. Analysis Excel spreadsheets and qualitative data analysis software were utilized to organize the data for interpretation and analysis. The data consisted of GHQ-12 scores, WIA participant data, background data, interview data, and field notes. The method of content analysis used a categorical-content approach as described by Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, and Zilber (1998). A categorical-content approach entails identifying categories and themes that become apparent through review of the data. Three readings of each interview were completed in succession. An objective coding scheme (Clark, 2012) was developed and applied to the content and data. Codes were developed on the basis of the emerging information collected from the participants (Creswell, 2009). This resulted in coding sections of the transcribed text according to the categories developed from the interview process and reading transcripts. To facilitate data synthesis, organization, accessibility, and interpretation, MAX Qualitative Data Analysis 10 (MAXQDA10) qualitative analysis software was utilized.