Afrikaans has its origin in the seventeenth century after settlers from the Netherlands started a way station at the southern point of Africa. More than 95 % of the vocabulary originated from Dutch but there are also words originating from Malay, Portuguese, French, German, English and other African languages.

The language is spoken by nearly seven million people in South Africa. Approximately another 20 million people globally can speak Afrikaans as their mother tongue or second or third language. Universities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Poland and other countries also present Afrikaans as subject.

Afrikaans is one of 11 official languages in South Africa, but with English, one of only two that is developed as academic language with more than 200 Afrikaans subject dictionaries. In the last few years however, Afrikaans seems to be losing ground. In government institutions, some private companies and at universities, the idea has gained prominence that English, as global language, is more valuable for education and communication. Most research is published in English in order to reach a wider audience, both internationally and nationally, as most people in South Africa (also Afrikaans first language speakers) are fluent users of English.

The pioneers who started working on salutogenesis in Afrikaans in the early 1990s were Deo Strumpfer, Tyrone Pretorius and Marie Wissing. They have also validated the sense of coherence instrument for different South African groups and translated it in other South African indigenous languages like Setswana and Sesotho.

The Main Research Environments

Studies published in Afrikaans in which salutogenesis is addressed or in which the Afrikaans translation of Antonovsky’s sense of coherence instrument was used, were conducted at five South African universities. These universities are North-West University (previously known as the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education), Stellenbosch University, the University of South Africa (UNISA), the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State (previously the University of the Orange Free State). Most of these studies were done at the North-West University.

The Search for Salutogenesis Literature in the Afrikaans Language

The literature search was conducted using the South Africa ePublications data base of Sabinet and the NEXUS data base for current and completed South African Masters dissertations and Ph.D. theses. The search words salutogenese, kohesiesin and Antonovsky were used alone and in combination. The only limitation was Afrikaans as language. The search yielded a total of 83 publications. Clearly irrelevant publications and duplicates were removed. A total of 79 publications were left: 45 Masters Dissertations, 10 Ph.D. Theses and 24 journal articles. A few of the Masters and Ph.D. studies were also published as journal articles (Coetzee, 1999; Coetzee & Rothmann, 1999; Kriel, 2004; Kriel, Wilders, & Strydom, 2008; Kriel, Wilders, Strydom, & Breytenbach, 2005, 2008; Laubscher, 2001; Laubscher, Strydom, & Dreyer, 2003; Malan, 2001a, 2001b; Pretorius, 2000; Pretorius & Rothmann, 2001; Redelinghuys, 2003; Redelinghuys & Rothmann, 2005; Rothmann & Malan, 2003; Van Eeden, 1997; Van Eeden & Wissing, 2008). No books or book chapters published in Afrikaans could be found.

The earliest publication found was from 1992, namely the Masters dissertation of Lategan under the supervision of Spangenberg at the University of Stellenbosch, about androgyny and attribution styles as sources for efficient stress management (translated from Afrikaans).


Most of the research conducted was done in psychology and industrial psychology . There were also a few studies in sport and recreation science, educational psychology, theology and even history. Nowadays most studies are published (mostly in English) in the new discipline of positive psychology (Psycholofortology).

Some studies focus on specific aspects of psychological well-being such as the illumination of the cognitive component of psychological well-being by Brown (2002), determining personality characteristics in the salutogenic paradigm (Breed, 1997) and the development of a structural comparison model for the relation between coherence perception, coping strategies and job satisfaction (Lohann, 2001). Nel (1998) developed a cohesion model for the salutogenic approach to stress, while Van Eeden (1997, 2008) did an in-depth study of psychological well-being and sense of coherence. Wilmans (1996) investigated age and gender as variables in the salutogenic paradigm. Construct clarification and model testing on the nature of coping was done by Putter (1998).

A number of studies used the sense of coherence instrument as part of the development or evaluation of a variety of development programmes , for example with prisoners (Botha, 1996), farmers (Botma, 2004), musical young adults (Burger, 1999), people living in a violence afflicted milieu (Kruger, 2000) and elderly persons (Van Zyl, 1994).

Others used the sense of coherence instrument as part of a battery of tests on people with challenges such as pupils with learning disabilities (Botma, 2001), hypertension patients (Botha, 2001), single parents (Coetzee, 2000), homosexual people (Dreyer, 2003; Reynhardt, 1998), older people with Alzheimer’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis (Heyns, Viljoen, & Odendaal, 2004; Viljoen, 2001), wheelchair athletes (Jonker, 2000), emergency personnel (Oosthuizen, 1995; Strydom, 1995), teachers at a school for the deaf (Nel, 2000), caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (Potgieter, 2001; Venter, 2001), caregivers of AIDS patients (Steenkamp, 2005; Steenkamp & Potgieter, 2008) and caregivers of intellectually challenged adults (Wahl & Newmark, 2009).

Very few studies were done on development or verifying of instruments. Bouwer (2004) determined the psychometric characteristics of the family coherence questionnaire and the family functionality questionnaire for use with North Sothos (an ethnic group in South Africa). Van Quickelberge (2000) studied the psychometric characteristics of a number of scales under Setswana speaking people.

A large number of studies were done in industrial psychology, for example the study of salutogenesis in an organizational context by Viviers (1996). The translated sense of coherence instrument was often used as part of a set of instruments to compile a profile of characteristics of individuals that form part of a specific group, such as people in the same profession or doing the same work. Examples of these type of studies are stress, coping strategies , social support and the psychological and physical well-being of academics (Bach, 2000), characteristics of managers in different types of companies (May, 2000; Bezuidenhout, Strydom, Dreyer, & Merwe, 2003; Prinsloo, 1995), clergymen from different denominations (Breytenbach, Wilders, Strydom, & Breytenbach, 2005; Kriel, 2004; Kriel et al., 2005, 2008; Malan, 2001a, 2001b; Redelinghuys, 2003; Redelinghuys & Rothmann, 2005; Swanepoel, Esterhuyse, Beukes, & Nortje, 2012), work teams in the chemical industry (Buitendach & Stander, 2004), employees of a financial institution (Human, 2002; Pretorius, 2000) and social workers (Malan, 2001a, 2001b).


The relationship between different constructs was studied by researchers such as Rothmann and Agathagelou (2000), who examined the relationship between locus of control and job satisfaction in senior police personnel. Van Vuuren (2000) studied the locus of control, sense of coherence and psychosomatic diseases in police officers. Venter (2001) studied the relationship between psychofortological factors and burnout in nurses caring for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The connection between feelings of coherence and stress-related symptomatology amongst staff of the Department of Correctional Services was studied by Gous (1998).

Other Topic Areas

A number of researchers studied salutogenic characteristics in order to promote physical health (Du Toit et al., 2013; Erasmus, 2002; Grove & Wilders, 2009; Labuschagne, Strydom, & Wilders, 2011; Laubscher, 2001; Laubscher, Strydom, & Dreyer, 2003; Scott, 2000; Van Staden, Grobler, & Esterhuyse, 2006), temperament of adolescents (Van Zyl, 2007), personality types (Fourie, 2000), and locus of control and job satisfaction (Geyser, 2000).

Claassens (1997) as well as Du Toit (2000) concentrated on coping skills and psychological well-being amongst teenagers. Fouche and Rothmann (2001) put emphasis on the coping skills of managers in the transformation process.

A few researchers concentrated on psychological well-being as a construct of the sense of coherence with spirituality (Fourie, 1999), self-concept (Greef, 2000), coping skills (Van der Wateren, 1997) and crisis-intervention programmes for the South African Police Service (Van Vuren, 1999).

Two history papers were also published. Mcleod (2005) and Mcleod and Pretorius (2002) used psychological constructs to interpret the experiences and behaviour of two South African historical figures, General J. H. de la Rey and President M. T. Steyn.

Final Comments

A total of 55 masters and Ph.D. studies addressing salutogenesis have been done in Afrikaans since 1992. Twenty two of these have also been published in Afrikaans in scientific journals. Most of the studies were cross-sectional descriptive studies . A few evaluated interventions (Botha, 1996; Botma, 2001; Burger, 1999; du Preez, 2001; Kruger, 2000; Van Zyl, 1994), while others studied salutogenesis in a conceptual manner (Breed, 1997; Brown, 2002; Lohann, 2001; Nel, 1998; Putter, 1998; Van Eeden, 1997; Van Eeden & Wissing, 2008; Wilmans, 1996). A substantial number of studies addressing various aspects of salutogenesis have been done in Afrikaans. One review article has been published (Coetzee et al., 2010) Research in this area is still being done in South Africa although mostly in English.