The C.O.P.E. Typology of Coping with Stressors at Sea among Filipino Merchant Marine Ratings: A Q Methodology Study


Background: The seafarers’ poor mental health has been associated with significant morbidity, inefficiency, and accidents on board. Mental and physical health is largely dependent on the way seafarers handle stressors.
Anchored on the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping, this study aimed to identify the typology of Filipino merchant marine ratings according to their coping strategies to stressors on board vessels.

Methods: Thirty-seven (37) Filipino merchant marine ratings participated in this study. They were chosen by purposive sampling. They rank-ordered 25 opinion statements on various stressors and coping mechanisms. The rank-ordered sorts were subjected to by-person factor analysis with Varimax rotation using the PQ Method version 2.32. The resulting factors were interpreted using the inductive approach, aided by the interview done after Q sorting.

Results: Four factors were generated: solution-focused seafarers, stressor-focused seafarers, self-management–focused seafarers, and the social milieu-focused seafarers. There is a consensus on the supplication-focused seafarers who ask for God’s help in times of stress.

Conclusion: The generated typology provides a better understanding of seafarers’ outlook on stress and coping and may help the stakeholders craft individualized strategies to help improve their coping mechanisms and overall mental health. Occupational health research must continue to focus on understanding the role of culture and adaptation on stress and coping behaviors to retain quality seafarers and promote a healthier workplace.


Key words: coping mechanisms, merchant marine ratings, Q methodology, seafarers, stressors


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