Sample Literature Review Paper of Adult Coping Strategies

Literature Review of Adult Coping Strategies


This paper reviews the available pieces of literature about coping strategies used by adults to gain resilience. A number of issues affect adults that they need to overcome using coping strategies. This aims to identify the type of strategies that adults employ to manage obstacles in their lives. In addition, the paper reviews the available literature to determine whether the coping strategies used by adults differ by gender.

Adult Coping Strategies

(a) Background research

Adults become vulnerable to a number of issues, which leads to stress. No wonder several authors, scholars, and researchers have been seeking to understand various strategies older adults are using to cope with stressful situations in their life. As explained by Moosa (2015), some of the stress factors in adulthood include death of a spouse, retirement, loss of muscle strength, physical impairments, cognitive impairments, isolation, loneliness, visual, auditory, disabilities, as well as onset of illness amongst others. He further illustrated that adults have developed various coping strategies against these adulthood stress factor depending on their situations.

Several research studies have been conducted about adult coping strategies over the past three decades. After reviewing the available pieces of literature, Sinclair (2004) concluded that much of past research has focused on the multidimensional nature of strategies used by older adults to deal with stress. He emphasized that adult coping strategies are not one-fit-all methods but rather dependent on specific situation and the person. Herskovic (2013) explained that coping strategies used by older adults are simply measures for reducing anxiety. He further asserted that most researchers in this field have been focusing on the ideological nature of the adult coping strategies. He acknowledged that adult coping strategies are either religious or secular in orientation. He concluded by asserting that adults chose coping strategies depending on their personal preferences and beliefs.

(b) Coping theorists

As explained by Lerner, Lamb and Freund (2010), theories developed to explain coping strategies are categorized into three groups namely (1) strategies for alleviating emotions, (2) strategies for resolving the problem, and lastly (2) strategies for seeking social support. He further explained that gender differences determine largely how adults are using the first category of coping strategies. In addition, the last strategy of seeking social support depends on gender to a greater extent. As explained by Moosa (2015), mostly female genders commonly use the first and the last adult coping strategies to manage obstacles in their life. Some theorists have constructed other models that classified adult coping strategies using approach-avoidance dichotomy (Moosa, 2015).

On the other hand, Lerner, Lamb and Freund (2010) provided a more practical assessment of coping strategies by considering three elements namely non-productivity, productivity, and reference. Using this model, they explained that productive coping strategy allows the adult to reflect on the problem and tackle it. Older adults use this approach to tackle obstacles in their life. Moosa (2015) asserted that this approach is not dependent on gender of the adult. On the contrary, the nonproductive coping strategies are commonly used by female genders to regulate their feelings. This helps them gain resilience while trying to manage obstacles in their lives. Using the last category, reference to others, adults manage obstacles in their life by enlisting help from other people such as relatives, friends, and counselors (Herskovic, 2013).


The literature review provided above suggests that there is dire need for more research into the relationships between adult coping strategies. This is because little research has been conducted in this field and there are few available pieces of literature. The literature pointed some coping strategies used by adults. It has also identified the role of gender in choosing coping strategies thus supporting the specific needs of the research questions. Lastly, the literature will contribute to the knowledge of how adults are using coping strategies to manage obstacles they are facing in their life.




Herskovic, S. A. (2013). A comparative study of stress and coping strategies of adult children of Holocaust survivors and adult children of Non-Holocaust survivors. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms International [Publisher.

Lerner, R. M., Lamb, M. E., & Freund, A. M. (2010). The Handbook of Life-Span Development, Volume 2, Social and Emotional Development. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Moosa, E. (2015). Coping Strategies of Psychiatric Patients: A Comparative Study. Journal of Behavioral Sciences25(1), 120.

Sinclair, C. R. (2004). Development of gender-based coping strategies for adult daughters of single parents: Effects on depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. San Francisco Bay: California School of Professional Psychology.