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Lifestyle management education: A case study of the closing of Fort Devens

Janet B Sullivan, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study examines how civilian workers managed stress at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, after the 1991 Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) selected the post for closure. The post shut down operations in September 1995, two years ahead of the schedule mandated by related legislation. After the closure announcement in April 1991, a number of events further compounded the problem of base closure. First, there was a deep recession in New England. Second, general downsizing of the federal government and of the Department of Defense, in particular, severely decreased potential job opportunities for many workers. These events created a climate of stress at Fort Devens. At the same time closure was announced, Fort Devens made available to all civilian employees the opportunity to attend a lifestyle management course called Fit to Win, the purpose of which was not stress management but better fitness through exercise and proper nutrition. This study examines how employees coped with the stress of losing their jobs at Fort Devens, and to what degree the Fit to Win program was an effective tool in helping them manage their stress. Qualitative research methods were used. A case study with in-depth interviewing was the primary mode of inquiry. The study was composed of a purposeful sample of six civilian Fort Devens employees who also attended the Fit to Win course of instruction. In addition to taped and transcribed interviews, an interviewer's journal was also used to conduct the research. The findings suggest that Fit to Win is an effective lifestyle management program. All of the participants thought the course content was sound and the results were worthwhile. Those individuals who fully engaged in the program, theoretically and in application, reaped the greatest rewards. The findings also suggest that Fit to Win has varied impact on participants: temporary, permanent, and no change. Additionally, the findings suggest that a lifestyle management program comprised of exercise and nutritional guidance can effectively help individuals to cope with stress. Furthermore, the findings suggest that Fit to Win education can be a vehicle for successful transition from stress management to lifestyle management, or improved wellness.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Occupational psychology|Social work

Recommended Citation

Sullivan, Janet B, "Lifestyle management education: A case study of the closing of Fort Devens" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9823779.