Background: Much debate exists about the stability of the sense of coherence measure. This study examined changes in sense of coherence (SOC), and the variables associated with these changes, over a 4-year period, in a representative sample of the Canadian labour force (n=6,790).
Methods: Two methods were used to assess change in SOC: (1) Change outside of that which could be considered as indistinguishable from measurement error, and (2) Change of more than 10%, which was originally proposed by Antonovksy, the scales designer.
Results: Over the study period, 35.4% of the population reported changes in SOC outside the range we consider possible due to measurement error, with 58% reporting change greater than 10%. Unskilled occupations were associated with declines in SOC, with household income demonstrating a curvilinear relationship with decline in SOC in the female population only. None of the variables used predicted increases in SOC.
Conclusions: Given the degree of change in SOC, and the representativeness of the study sample, we suggest that SOC has a large state component. Given this lack of stability, we recommend caution if using the SOC to represent a stable global orientation within a causal context.