Examining challenge and hindrance stressors as antecedents of recovery experiences: The mediating role of self-regulation

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only


Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business and Law

First Supervisor

Stephen Teo

Second Supervisor

Jennifer Lajom

Third Supervisor

Diep Nguyen


Despite the considerable progress made in the recovery from work research, the mechanism through which specific types of work stressors (challenge and hindrance stressors) are related to recovery experiences and the impact of these experiences on wellbeing outcomes remain unexplored. Using an overarching theoretical framework that integrates the challenge–hindrance model, the conservation of resources theory and the regulatory focus theory, this study investigated how challenge and hindrance stressors are uniquely related to the recovery experiences of relaxation and control via self-regulatory focus at work, and the impact of these recovery experiences on satisfaction with work–life balance (SWLB). Guided by a positivist research paradigm that emphasised direct observation and objective measurement of reality, this study was conducted in two phases.

Phase 1 utilised content validity analysis to examine the validity of the items used to measure challenge and hindrance stressors among registered nurses in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. Data were collected from 25 registered nurses working in Ghana and analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Of the 26 stressors presented to the participants, 9 were categorised as challenge stressors and 17 as hindrance stressors. Overall, the average rater agreement was 77.02%. Practically, validating the challenge–hindrance measure in a population that is different from those that have been extensively studied helped identify the unique set of relevant work stressors that are representative of Ghana health care nurses, thereby enhancing the validity of the study findings. Theoretically, the high levels of rater agreement among the nurses in respect of the stressors’ categorisation task provides additional support to the conservation of resources theory’s argument that the stress appraisal process entails not only personal subjective appraisal but also a primary element of objectivity and a sociocultural component that is shared and interpreted by individuals and their immediate social groups.

In Phase 2, a cross-sectional survey was used to examine the mediating roles of promotion and prevention foci in the relationship between challenge stressors, hindrance stressors and the recovery experiences of relaxation and control. In addition, the impact of these recovery experiences on SWLB was examined. Data were collected from 318 registered nurses working in Ghana and analysed using covariance-based structural equation modelling (CB-SEM). The findings revealed that challenge stressors indirectly related positively to recovery experiences of relaxation and control via promotion-focused regulation. Although the proposed negative indirect effect of hindrance stressors on recovery experiences via prevention focus was not supported, additional analysis showed that hindrance stressors are indirectly related negatively to recovery experiences of relaxation and control through promotion-focused regulation. The results further showed that relaxation and control during the off-job period are related positively to satisfaction with work–life balance.

Theoretically, the study revealed promotion-focused regulation as an important self-regulation strategy that influences resource expenditure and replenishment. The findings from this study highlight promotion-focused regulation as the mechanism through which work stressors affect recovery experiences and wellbeing in terms of SWLB. Practically, the study found evidence to support that promotion-focused regulation at work can extend to improve recovery experiences and SWLB. This suggests that nurses may benefit from using promotion-focused regulation at work. Therefore, employees aiming to improve their health and wellbeing at work and after work can be encouraged to engage in promotion-focused regulation at work.

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