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Keywords:

  • coping;
  • women’s health;
  • adult development;
  • retroduction;
  • developmental stressors;
  • young adulthood;
  • field research;
  • feminist method;
  • qualitative method;
  • life trajectory

Coping in young women: theoretical retroduction¶Although there is increasing interest in women’s health, there remains little empirical evidence concerning concepts related to health and women’s life trajectory. Our purpose in conducting this research was to examine women’s developmental stressors and coping during young adulthood. Lazarus and Folkman’s coping model provided sensitizing concepts for data generation in a retroductive research methodology. The sample included 26 women of diverse perspectives who participated in interviews and groups. Philosophical concerns of subjectivity, context and gender sensitivity were actualized in iterative stages of data collection, analysis and comparison to extant theory. Rapidly expanding multiple roles were identified as developmental stressors for young women. Decontextualized coping strategies are arranged on a behavioural continuum: avoidance, distraction, and confrontation. Contextualized descriptions of coping are presented in two representative accounts: Lauren and Mary Ellen. A philosophical stance, assumed at about the age of 30, provides a lens for assessing developmental stressors that influence the appraisal process. Rich descriptions of young women’s coping and developmental influences move beyond abstract theory to a contextual understanding of young women’s experiences.