Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



Mormon missionaries face numerous challenges throughout the course of their mission. They serve in multiple capacities; they provide numerous types of services; and they work an average of 12 hours a day, six days a week. Missionaries encounter nearly constant rejection and hostility. In most cases, these missionaries serve in areas that are unfamiliar to them and they have limited contact with their family and friends. Despite these challenges, most missionaries not only successfully complete their mission, but they also have a positive view of their mission. According to Bjorck and Kim (2009), not much research has been conducted in the area of coping styles of religious missionaries. This study is an attempt to contribute to this area of knowledge. This project also relied on qualitative research methods in order to describe the lived experiences of returned Mormon missionaries, to identify daily stressors and coping responses to these stressors, and to identify any additional support received while in the field. The framework used in this study relied on semi-structured informal interviews that were audio-recorded. It was determined that data saturation occurred with the tenth interview. This study used Moustakas's modified van Kaam method during the data analysis process. The following themes emerged from the data: attitudes toward mission; changes, growth, and development; success and efficacy; and protective factors, motivation, and coping. An implication from this study include the need for organizations that train missionaries to offer consistency among people who are charged with training missionaries. Returned missionaries in this study reported a disparity between the image that they had been given of missionary work and the true nature of missionary work. As a result of this disparity, missionaries encountered feelings of anxiety and disillusionment with the work. Missionary training centers should also provide missionaries-in-training with education on burnout, including the identification of successful coping strategies and potential sources of support. Though the study yielded information on the coping skills of male missionaries who are in their early 20s, it did not focus on the coping styles of female missionaries, missionaries who identify as ethnic minorities, and senior missionaries. Future research should also seek to determine if coping strategies of missionaries employed in religious organizations differ from their counterparts in non-religious organizations.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Machtmes, Krisanna