Mood changes in homesick persons during a holiday trip: A multiple case study

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Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics

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Homesickness is generally studied with respect to rather uncommon long-lasting situations such as a (forced) move, while short stays away from home, like holidays, are much more common homesickness situations. Furthermore, little is known about the development and course of homesickness feelings. Therefore, the present multiple case study was designed in order to obtain a better insight into the onset and course of homesickness and patterns of mood changes, as well as saliva cortisol levels during a short stay away from home.


Several times before, during and after their holiday, 10 adult homesick-prone females completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS), the Homesickness Decision Tree (HDT) and a Subjective Homesickness Rating. In addition, saliva samples were obtained. Data were analyzed individually. Furthermore, days with and without homesickness were compared across individuals using t tests.


Using the HDT, the following typology, based upon four different reaction patterns, emerged: (1) no homesickness, (2) anticipation homesickness, (3) holiday homesickness, and (4) a combination of anticipation and holiday homesickness. POMS scores demonstrated significantly worsened mood when experiencing homesickness. Cortisol levels, however, failed to differ between days with and without homesickness.


Homesickness is characterized by negative mood which is not necessarily reflected in significantly changed salivary cortisol levels. Feelings of homesickness are not only experienced during absence from home, but may occur also in anticipation to a leave. Future studies need to focus upon the prevalence, causes and consequences of the different types of homesickness.

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