Dynamics of a Wellness Program: A Conservation of Resources Perspective

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We leverage conservation of resources theory to explain possible dynamics through which a holistic wellness program results in positive longer-term outcomes. Specifically, we hypothesize that wellness self-efficacy at the end of a wellness program will create a positive resource gain spiral, increasing psychological availability (a sense of having cognitive, physical, and emotional resources to engage oneself) 6 months later, and career satisfaction, 1 year later. To test these hypotheses, using a time-lagged with control group design, we gathered questionnaire data from 160 Episcopal priests who participated in a 10-day off-site wellness program. We developed a scale measuring self-efficacy in the 4 wellness areas the program was designed to improve: physical, spiritual, financial, and vocational. Our findings provide evidence from a field setting of a relatively untested tenet of conservation of resources theory, resource gain spirals. The wellness program that we studied served as an opportunity for participants to gain new resources in the form of wellness self-efficacy, which in turn helped participants experience positive outcomes over time. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of the findings.

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