Navigation and service

Diplomats’ Quality of Life: The Role of Risk Factors and Coping Resources

Date 04 Feb 2016

In a new article published in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations, researchers from the BiB and the German Foreign Office analysed the influencing factors for diplomats’ quality of life.


The health-related well-being of diplomats has rarely been addressed in empirical studies. This is a shortcoming since this group of expatriates is confronted with specific mobility challenges. This paper has two central objectives. First, we investigate how the self-reported health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of German Foreign Service (GFS) employees compares to respective reference values from the German general population. Second, within the framework of an expanded Job Demands–Resources (JD-R) model, we analyze how diplomats’ HRQOL is affected by exposure to international relocation mobility and various personal risk and protective factors.

All employees of the GFS were surveyed using online questionnaires (N = 2433). Our HRQOL measure was derived from the “Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30” (QLQ-C30).

We show that, compared to the general population, diplomats report a worse HRQOL with respect to all subdomains included (physical symptoms as well as role, emotional, and social functioning). Absolute exposure to mobility (time spent in international rotation) did not affect HRQOL, while individually perceived stress shows significant detrimental effects and personal resources (self-efficacy, mobility-specific coping, social support) show significant beneficial effects on diplomats’ HRQOL. Perceived demands of work in diplomacy had significant health-impairment effects, but perceived resources had no additive value in explaining diplomats’ HRQOL once controlling for other factors. Moderator analyses reveal that mobility-specific coping acted as a buffer in the relationship between perceived stress and perceived job demands and HRQOL.

Practical implications are drawn as to support plans that respect the individual’s stress perceptions and available resources.

Fliege, Herbert; Waibel, Stine; Rüger, Heiko; Hillmann, Julika; Ruppenthal, Silvia; Schneider, Norbert F.; Bellinger, Maria M. (2016): Diplomats’ Quality of Life: The Role of Risk Factors and Coping Resources. In: International Journal of Intercultural Relations 51: 14-28 [DOI: 10.1016/j.ijintrel.2016.01.001]

This Page

© Federal Institute for Population Research - 2018