Although studies of gender differences in the stress/health relationship of elderly persons have been done, few have examined the combined affect of marital status and gender on health. The experience of stress may affect elderly married women differently than elderly unmarried women. The purpose of this study was to explore the differential effects of stress on elderly married women and to identify interventions that could be used in gerontological nursing practice to promote effective coping. Roy's theory is used to explain the effects of stress on elderly women and to suggest nursing interventions. According to Roy, individuals respond to stressors in four behavioral modes: physiological, self-concept, role performance, and interdependency. The results of this study indicate that, of the four groups studied in this sample, the married women were in poorest health and the most vulnerable to stress.
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