Coping strategies of Nigerian Military Service Personnel: A Survey of an Army Cantonment in Northern Nigeria.
Background: The peculiar characteristics of a military career, such as the specific professional military aims or tasks, working environment, strict subordination typical to military structures and formal and informal relationships, influence the type of coping strategies employed by individuals. The authors present the first study on coping strategies in a Nigerian military population. The study is aimed at determining the pattern of coping strategies employed by service personnel in the course of their duties and its correlation with socio-demographic parameters of this population.
Methods: A cross sectional descriptive study carried out among 193 servicemen. Samples were drawn by stratified multistage sampling in which respondents were stratified according to gender, military units and rank. Data was collected using socio-demographic questionnaire and the full COPE scale.
Results: Regarding specific coping strategies; 'turning to religion' (mean:- 14.09 ±2.551), was the most commonly used coping strategy, followed by planning (mean:- 12.6±3.059), positive re-interpretation and growth (mean:- 12.27±2.917) and then active coping (mean: - 12.11±2.896). Alcohol/drug use (mean:- 5.65 ±2.566) was the least used coping strategy among respondents. A statistically significant relationship was found between some coping strategies and gender (“Emotion Focussed Coping” greater among females, P= 0.017), educational status (“Denial”:- P=0.004, “Mental Disengagement ” : - P=0.038, “Behavioural Disengagement”:- P=0.000), and marital status (“Planning” highest among the divorced /separated group, P=0.019; “Suppression of Competing Activities” highest among single respondents, P=0.033; while “Humour” highest among the widowed, P=0.005), as well as the military ranks (emotion focused coping was greater among the lower ranks, P=0.042) of the service personnel. There was no statistically significant difference among the various age groups of the respondents with the various coping strategies.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated that personnel of the Nigerian Army exhibited significant differences in their coping strategies associated with specific socio-demographic parameters. The authors recommend an intensification of army personnel training on the positive coping skills.
Keywords: Military, Coping, Service, Northern Nigeria.