This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Natasha Caulfield, David Chang, Maureen F. Dollard, and Carol Elshaug
University of South Australia
The authors investigated empirical research into occupational stress interventions conducted in Australia within the past 10 years. They focused on evidence published and the quality of the evidence base. All intervention studies were conducted in the public sector. Only 1 study reached the gold standard in evidence-based research. Most interventions were individually focused, despite the preponderance of research identifying risky work environment stressors. Results suggest a paucity of published information regarding what works with occupational stress interventions in Australia and an urgent need for further research in the area, particularly focusing on the private sector, rural workers, and scientific evaluation.
KEY WORDS: work stress; stress research; public sector programs; work stress interventions; prevention
The impact of stress in the workplace is well recognized, with both human and financial costs investigated in the literature. In Australia, employees are entitled to workers’ compensation for stress when the claimant’s employment significantly contributes to stress; this does not include situations in which reasonable disciplinary action or failure to obtain a promotion, transfer, or other benefit in relation to employment occurred. Most states in Australia report an increasing number of stress claims per annum, and although the percentage relative to all other claims is low, the cost per claim is generally much higher, as is the time absent from work (Dollard, Winefield, & Winefield, 2001). The cost and prevalence of stress
Natasha Caulfield, David Chang, Maureen F. Dollard, and Carol Elshaug, School of Psychology, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Maureen F. Dollard, School of Psychology, University of South Australia, Adelaide 5000, South Australia, Australia. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
International Journal of Stress Management 2004, Vol. 11, No. 2, 149–166 Copyright 2004 by the Educational Publishing Foundation 1072-5245/04/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1072-5245.11.2.149
This in turn has led to increases in role ambiguity. increased work pressures. under the pressure of economic rationalism. and longer hours. the WorkCover Corporation of South Australia (1999) reported that workload pressures account for 37% of work-related stress claims. National estimates of the cost of stress was around $105. which are not accounted for in these financial estimates (Cooper & Cartwright. 1998). It is probable that these statistics do not fully reflect the incidence of work stress in Australia.. During that time. possibly resulting in increased work stress and illness (Dunnette. A rapidly changing workplace through globalization and technological advances has caused the nature of work to become more fluid. and almost half of the claim costs. As Dollard and Winefield (2002) suggested. and industrial accidents and the additional costs associated with return-to-work programs or redeployment. Various reasons have been posited for the increasing rates of claims in relation to workplace stress in Australia. perform multiple tasks.063 claims with a mechanism of “mental stress”. such as occupational stress. In all likelihood. behind physical strains and sprains. casual. Organizational downsizing has resulted in reduced job security and stability for many people. such as university teaching. all of which may result in increased levels of work stress. Dollard. Murphy. workers who make claims may . there has been a decrease in the number of full-time jobs and an increase in parttime. absenteeism. could mean that the real incidence of stress in the workplace is much greater than the statistics suggest (see Dollard et al. & Bursnall. Even jobs that were once considered relatively stress free. Kendall et al.150 Caulfield. resulting in job intensification. Indeed.5 million in 2000–2001 (National Occupational Health and Safety Commission. and contract labor. and self-manage (Kendall et al. The 1995 Australian Workplace and Industrial Relations Survey (Mitchell & Mandryk. 2002). and Elshaug claims vary from state to state. the stigma associated with making a compensation claim on the basis of intangible causes. O’Neill. In addition. 1994. these made up approximately 4% of all workers’ compensation cases. 2000).. workforce numbers have been reduced even though the amount of work to be done has not. with many workers expected to learn new skills. Chang. As a consequence. considering that many people who experience stress at work do not report it or file a claim requesting compensation for it (Kendall. Also. staff turnover. 1998) reported that 26% of people rate work stress as the second largest cause of work-related injury and illness. there were a total of 6. 2000). 2001). in this area. 2003).. many workers in full-time jobs are experiencing overemployment. are becoming increasingly stressful (Winefield & Jarrett. only the most serious stress cases will result in the lodging of a worker’s compensation claim. The financial costs of work-related stress reported by organizations such as the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission are likely to be quite conservative given the loss in productivity. 2000).
and others focus on appraisal and coping to explain . for example. often after all other leave entitlements have been taken. 1997). and. and behavioral changes (Baker. a withdrawal from family involvement. 1985.g. when negative affect develops as a result of stressors in one sphere. 1990). Greenhaus & Parasuraman. Flowers. Work stress appears to have multiple origins. Hobfoll & Freedy.Occupational Stress Research in Australia 151 do so as a last resort. 2002). Workplace stress may also result in behavioral problems. reported that work stress negatively affects marital cohesion. Quick. and organizational problems. & Hurrell. Through their influence on family problems. mental health issues. 1993). such as hypertension and heart attacks. the consequences of work stress may also be expected to affect the community at large (Kelly. the demand–control/support model. These observations provide a strong mandate for conducting research into the factors that precipitate occupational stress and to identify effective interventions that can be implemented to treat. It makes sense that the outcomes of occupational stress are not confined to work. psychological. Feelings of overload and strain predict increased family conflict.. some focus on the mismatch between organizational requirements and rewards (e. Some of these theories concentrate on the stressors within the work environment (e. 2000). They reported that work stress has detrimental implications on the quality of family interactions. anxiety. Crouter and Bumpus (2001) highlighted the negative spillover effect of work stress into family life. including physiological.. manage.g. The problems associated with work-related stress surpass financial considerations. such as increased alcohol consumption and smoking (Dollard & Winefield. Robinson. A number of theories have been developed to conceptualize the problem of occupational stress and to explain and predict when work stress will occur (Dollard. Nelson. C. Siegrist’s  effort–reward imbalance model). we hope. The stress of overwork has been associated with psychological problems such as depression.g. 1995). and manifestations of strain. physiological health problems. perceptions and appraisals of these. A common finding is that work stress has negative effects on families and home life (Muchinsky. and Carroll (2001). Karasek & Theorell. and burnout. and unemployment. some have a greater focus on the resources available to employees to cope with demands (e. Quick. 1987). As Repetti (1987) suggested. The human costs in individual suffering and organizational morale cannot be reduced to quantitative terms. prevent the occurrence of this phenomenon. and much of the reported research attempts to establish links among taxing aspects of the work environment (stressors).. including workplace violence and accidents (J. the conservation-of-resources model. and even adjustment problems for children. In addition. it subsequently transfers to other life spheres. 2001b).
e. .g. De Jonge and Dollard (2002) presented a matrix of stress management approaches (see Table 1) that focus on the three levels of prevention (i. Overview of Work Stress Interventions Level Organization Primary prevention Improving work content. secondary approaches are activities designed to change an individual’s reaction to stressors (e. career development Time management. and tertiary approaches are those that are used to treat the symptoms of stress and strain after they have been identified. by J. disability management. outplacement Posttraumatic stress assistance programs. 2002. J. (1998) identified both organizational and individual strategies within each of the three levels of prevention... Sydney. and managed (Dollard & Winefield. Interventions in stress management are typically classified into primary. group psychotherapy Rehabilitation after sick leave. and tertiary) and possible intervention strategies within each level. Primary approaches include strategies that aim to prevent the occurrence of work stress. secondary. Although all of these models have received some empirical support in the literature. secondary.com.cch. coaching. F. Campbell. Reproduced with the kind permission of CCH Australia Limited. fitness programs. D. emphasizing the individual. and Nelson (1998) published a useful summary of preventive strategies and surveillance indicators for organizational stress. and Elshaug individual differences in reactions to stress at work (e. Chang. work/home balance Preemployment medical examination. team or group) Individual Note.g. De Jonge and M.g. improving interpersonal skills. constituted. individual psychotherapy Individual– organization interface (e. 2002). Quick... Dollard. Dollard.au. Depending on the emphasis of the theory. For more information. Lazarus and Folkman’s  cognitive phenomenological theory). primary. Australia: CCH Australia Ltd. conflict management Peer support groups.152 Caulfield.. the organization. work stress depends primarily on the way that jobs are constructed. by means of relaxation training and team building). or tertiary approaches (Kendall et al. 1993)—that is. career planning Cognitive–behavioral techniques. New South Wales. didactic stress management Secondary prevention Improving communication and decision making. 2000). see www. Quick et al. case management. From Stress in the Workplace: Australian Master OHS and Environment Guide. Copyright 2002 by CCH Australia Limited. different implications for interventions result. the dominant view is that work stress and the resulting mental health outcomes are more strongly related to job factors or aspects of the work environment rather than to personal or biographical factors (Maslach & Schaufeli. J. or the inTable 1. relaxation Tertiary prevention Vocational rehabilitation. Quick. D.
to review the methodology. There is no such contemporary review of the Australian literature in this area. the aim of this study was to look at the empirical research that has been conducted on occupational stress interventions within an Australian context over the last 10 years and. . It soon became apparent that there was but a handful of published studies (a total of six) of this kind that had been conducted in Australia within the last 10 years. our intention was to focus our efforts on research in which a specific intervention to reduce stress had been implemented and evaluated. Similar to Kompier and Cooper (1999). & Cooper. there is a considerable gap between postulating a descriptive theory and building a credible case for the allocation of resources to address stress in the workplace. 2001a. since 1993). The purpose of this study was to take stock of peer-reviewed empirical research on occupational stress interventions conducted in Australia in the last 10 years. In addition to this. 2003) and identified 16 studies. in particular.. orientation.e. 1999). Noblet. and effectiveness of interventions. The above theories and conceptualizations provide a complex macroframework for delineating the phenomenon that is occupational stress. We used the limit options to narrow the search for articles that had been published in the last 10 years (i. The main objective of the study was to examine the quality of the evidence base for occupational stress interventions (within an Australian context). Geurts & Grundemann. Kompier and Cooper (1999) systematically evaluated 11 organizational case studies from 11 different European countries. However. A more recent review of United Kingdom-based stress management interventions evaluated studies published in the academic literature over the past 10 years (Giga. Recent research has focused on stress management interventions. To establish a clear mandate for action. we conducted a literature review using the EBSCO Host search engine. there are national policy approaches and group-level approaches to stress prevention (Dollard. as well as to summarize the results of the studies. As the push for evidence-based practice becomes stronger.Occupational Stress Research in Australia 153 terface between the two. there is a need for research to converge on evidencebased solutions to the strain experienced in the world of work. Faragher. METHOD Stages In Stage 1. there is a need to identify not only the factors that affect occupational stress but also the effectiveness of specific interventions through empirical research. Hence.
subjective effects. Review Procedure Two reviewers independently reviewed the articles and then agreed on a descriptive framework to review the studies.154 Caulfield. We reviewed the intervention studies using the descriptive framework of Kompier and Cooper (1999. nurses) Interventions: whether an intervention was implemented/evaluated The reviews were checked for interrater agreement. or individual differences Strains: the stress experience of participants (e. Dollard. interpersonal. and a consensus of ratings was reached through discussion.. costs and benefits. and Elshaug In Stage 2. we assigned the research design of each intervention study a rating according to the following criteria (Kompier & Cooper. or authoritative evidence obtained without intervention but that might include . we assessed the intervention studies on a range of criteria. resources. Then. 1999): * ** evidence that is descriptive. anecdotal.g. The interrater agreement was 95%. each reviewer independently assessed the articles against the descriptive frameworks. physical) and the measures used Participants: the type of participants recruited for the research (e. obstructing and stimulating factors. timing of follow-up As part of this framework. psychological. risk groups Choice of measures: work directed or person directed Implementation: how the intervention was introduced in the workplace Evaluation: objective effects. In Stage 3. rural. 1996): Preparation: motives for conducting research. Chang. All studies were first assessed for scope of inquiry in the following areas: Industry: the type of work examined in the research and whether this work was situated in a public or private sector context Location: urban..g. how the research was organized Problem analysis: instruments used. regional Stressors: whether the focus of the research was on aspects of the work environment. we selected only those articles in which an empirical study with an intervention had been conducted with Australian participants. based on Murphy. risk factors.
and Geurts’s (2000) suggestion that work stress programs are predominantly reactive (i. such as the one conducted by Van der Klink. suggesting that attempts to reduce workplace stress are generally Band-Aid approaches that focus on reducing the effect of stressors rather than lessening the occurrence of these stressors in the first place. overall. The remaining four intervention studies were all given a three-star rating. From the current review it is apparent that interventions have been primarily individually focused rather than organizationally focused. The study by Leonard and Alison (1999) was given a four-star rating because although it was a well-conducted study with a control group. and van Dijk (2001). secondary or tertiary approaches) and tailored to the individual.. The United Kingdom review study conducted by Giga et al. Schene. Kahn and Byosiere (1992) put it another way. it lacked randomization.e. Craig and Hancock (1996) aimed to teach university staff skills to self-manage stress through the implementation of a healthy (text continues on page 161) . Blonk. who used search parameters similar to those used in this study. This is similar to results of other reviews. compared with five that were individually focused. of all post-1990 studies reviewed that received a three-star rating or higher. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Table 2 is a summary of results for intervention studies conducted between 1993 and 2003 using Australian participants. who found that organizationally focused interventions were implemented in only 5 out of 48 studies. 1996). These ratings were incorporated into the results reported below. only 19% were organization-level interventions. only one was given a five-star rating (Craig & Hancock. Cooper.Occupational Stress Research in Australia 155 long-term or dramatic results from general dissemination of information or medical agent into a population *** evidence obtained without a control group or randomization but with evaluation **** evidence obtained from a properly conducted study with pre and post measures and a control group but without randomization ***** evidence obtained from a properly conducted study with pre and post measures and a randomized control group. For example. Only one intervention study was organizationally focused. found that. Such results are consistent with Kompier. Of the six intervention studies. From the reviewed studies it appears that. (2003). individually focused interventions do not seem to perform particularly well at lowering work stress.
rating: ***** Step 2: Problem analysis Step 3: Choice of measures Step 4: Implementation Step 5: Evaluation Case (n) 1: Craig & Hancock. General Health and a 2-year between treatment and Questionnaire. Systematic Analysis of Intervention Step 1: Preparation Teach staff skills to Risk factors: self-manage stress.156 Table 2. High relaxation training and attrition rate may have biofeedback mechanisms skewed the statistical (i. lifestyle program. 1996 (n 143 completed 1 assessment. interested staff from 6-week healthy lifestyle voluntary taking part in healthy program. Organization: interpersonal. finger temperature and results of the study. and height assessment. Participants statistical trend toward posttest (immediately after educated in treatment group implementation). Participants were assessed at the completion of the 6-week program and again 2 years later. n 21 completed 3 assessments) Participants: University staff Sector: Public Region: Unknown Instruments: Blood pressure. Following Responsibility: Work commitments the health assessments they Individual staff prevented some of were invited to attend a members. level of stress). Bortner Type follow-up control group overall A Personality Scale and measure of on psychological Lifestyle Appraisal stress levels. health assessment. Dollard. follow-up 2 managing their improvements). staff who expressed Funding: University interest in healthy of Technology. measures (although Questionnaire. Occupational. improve quality of Control condition: 143 life. own physical Program not Work directed: Not specified. pretest. Caulfield. but were unable to Research design attend. years later. and Elshaug . and Overall goal to psychological reduce risk of strains. taken. Initial health Timing of follow-up: 2blood cholesterol. then year follow-up measure and weight measurements 6-week healthy of stress. stress-related Risk groups: All disease and teaching staff.e. Locus of Control of lifestyle program No significant difference Behaviour.. which included participation. psychological health. and significantly effective at Person directed: University psychological improving staff staff agreed to participate in sources of stress. Chang. lifestyle program Sydney. n 41 completed 2 assessments.
Risk factors: Interpersonal. 1998 (n 419) Participants: Correctional officers Sector: Public Region: Urban & rural (Table continues) 157 . Step 2: Problem analysis Step 3: Choice of measures Step 4: Implementation Step 5: Evaluation Timing of follow-up: Ongoing review of policies. developments in the spirit of the recommendations. and individual participants. 1996). counselor.Table 2. Responsibility: Management. Reduction of over $2 million on the workers compensation budget over the past 2 years. education. (continued) Step 1: Preparation Had highest incidence rate of workers’ compensation claims compared to other government agencies Organization: Department of Correctional Services in response to problem. and training. Funding: Department of Correctional Services. and psychological strain. Research design rating: *** Based on a previous organizational analysis of the work stress problem (see Dollard. Instruments: Staff counselors rated each original recommendation as clear implementation. and enrichment of psychological health services. Person directed: Information dissemination. Occupational Stress Research in Australia Case (n) 2: Dollard et al.. Significant reduction in the number of work stress claims over the past 7 years. Risk groups: All staff. surveillance of psychological disorders and risk factors. Utilization of staff counselor increased to over 500 staff contacts in the 12 months. or no clear evidence of implementation. physical. Work directed: Job design to improve working conditions.
Step 2: Problem analysis Step 3: Choice of measures Step 4: Implementation Step 5: Evaluation Timing of follow-up: Not known. participants were matched to the control group. but attendance was who refused to attend the debriefing—treatment group voluntary. Case (n) 3: Leonard & Alison. Organization: Department concerned with validity of CISD with its impact on coping strategies and levels of anger following debriefing and the well-being of its officers. 1999 (n 60) Participants: Male police officers Sector: Public Region: Unknown Caulfield. Risk factors: psychological. and quality of that support and any other social support received. Chang. STAX-I Individual and Subscales from the Coping organization. These were officers incident. and Elshaug . 156). Control condition: 30 officers assigned to the no-debriefing (NOD) group. The organization Scale (Carver. Coping Responsibility: Scale. “16 of the 30 officers in the CISD group felt that debriefing had no effect on the way they coped with the incident” (p. debriefing after Person directed: 30 CISD and a critical 30 NOD. Research design rating: **** Instruments: Information on prior negative life experiences and details of critical incident shooting.158 Table 2. The NOD group obtained higher anger scores than the CISD group. (continued) Step 1: Preparation Important to monitor any assistance given because of concern for psychological and physical health of police officers. 1989) and STAX-I. coordinated the Work directed: Not specified. The CISD group scored higher on active coping and positive reinterpretation and growth. and occupational strain. CISD. support received from department. physical. Carver et al. The CISD group reported more help from colleagues than the NOD group. Risk groups: All police officers. Funding: not specified. Dollard.
yes/no questions. question. facility conducted stress symptom an in-service checklist. and rating: *** psychological strains. interpersonal. Responsibility: Person directed: Half-day stress Individual and management instruction organization.Table 2. 1995 (n fire brigades is on 747) the management Participants: of critical events. Step 2: Problem analysis Step 3: Choice of measures Step 4: Implementation Step 5: Evaluation Timing of follow-up: Not known. participants completed the stress symptom checklist and a self-report stress question. during initial training. also a Debriefing sessions critical incident management mandatory. Organization: Aged RME information Person directed: RME and care nursing home and instructions self-report measures. Research design rating: *** 5: Walter et al. Firefighters Organization: New Sector: Public South Wales Fire Region: Urban and Brigades.. Risk groups: All members of the New South Wales Fire Bridages. 159 (Table continues) . and questions that were rated using a Likert scale. wage for attendance. informal sessions voluntary. Risk factors: Physical. Significant reduction in stress symptoms. 405). Funding: Not Risk factors: Physical. education self-reported stress program. (continued) Step 1: Preparation Instruments: Open-ended questions. No significant decrease in self-reported stress. interpersonal. rural Funding: Not specified. Research design occupational. Significant reduction in blood pressure. 1995 (n 24) Participants: Nurses Sector: Public Region: Urban To provide coping Instruments: Blood Work directed: In-service strategies to deal pressure. specified. Responsibility: Organization and individual Those recruited were paid for their participation. evaluation education program with workplace sheet to give participants paid normal stressors. Work directed: Not specified. Case (n) Occupational Stress Research in Australia 4: Moran & Current emphasis in Colless. and psychological strains. Risk groups: All staff. feedback on session. “The firefighters rated individual and informal sessions for dealing with stress as potentially more useful than the formal debriefing sessions now common in many emergency organizations” (p. Timing of follow-up: 12 weeks after the last session. program was offered to Individual and employees.
General Health Questionnaire (Goldberg & Williams. Dollard. and Elshaug Note. interpersonal. Instruments: 3 aspects of work-related psychological well-being. 1996). Organization: Medical profession. Research rating: *** Risk factors: Physical. Step 2: Problem analysis Step 3: Choice of measures Step 4: Implementation Step 5: Evaluation Case (n) 6: Winefield & Farmer. Person directed: Series of seminars. Seminars were free if participants agreed to complete the specified measures.. 1979). critical incident stress debriefing. RME . a slightly modified version of the Job Satisfaction Scale (Warr et al. Chang. the program of Continuing seminars. level of psychological distress. Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach & Jackson. relaxing mental Caulfield. education points could be earned through participation. 1998 (n 20) Participants: Female general practitioners Sector: Public Region: Urban Responsibility: Timing of follow-up: Individual Collected 4 weeks after Voluntary the last seminar by participation— mail.160 Table 2. STAX-I State–Trait Anger Expression Inventory (Spielberger. and psychological strains. 1988). Work directed: Not specified. CISD exercises. 1986). (continued) Step 1: Preparation Recognition of the increase in work stress for medical professionals and to evaluate the effectiveness of a work stress management program for female general practitioners. recruitment Decrease in psychological through distress and emotional newsletter and exhaustion following word of mouth. Funding: Not specified.
The findings indicated a reduction in stress symptoms. and increased . reduction in expenditures on the worker’s compensation budget. teaching coping strategies to deal with workplace stressors (e. Likewise. although no reduction in self-reported stress. and Pointer (1995) examined the implications of providing an inservice education program to a group of nurses. the study by Winefield and Farmer (1998) examined the outcome of providing a program of stress management seminars to a group of female general practitioners. Similarly. The results of this study indicated no effect of these stress management skills in reducing the participants’ physical or psychological ill health. The results of the organization-focused intervention reported by Dollard. Results of Australian intervention studies that have examined the effectiveness of critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) as a stress management tool have reported mixed results. Leonard and Alison (1999) examined the success of CISD in a sample of police officers. They found a decrease in the level of psychological distress and emotional exhaustion following the seminars. On a more positive note. Moran and Colless (1995) examined the success of CISD with firefighters and found that voluntary. relaxing mental exercises). and Winefield (1998) were more positive than the individualfocused interventions. These findings are supported by the research of Giga et al.. the effects were less likely to be long term. Dollard et al. For example. approximately 50% of these officers did not attribute their superior coping skills to the effects of the debriefing. Bond. seminar-based programs appear to procure better outcomes. There is an urgent need for more Australian intervention studies so that more valid conclusions can be drawn. These included a significant reduction in the number of work stress claims. although they were better able to manage some of their symptoms. these conclusions are made on the basis of only six intervention studies. The results of these individually focused intervention studies indicate that voluntary health programs aimed at teaching skills in stress management are not particularly successful in reducing the experience of workplace stress. Thus. who found that although individual-level interventions had some immediate benefits.g. On the other hand. informal sessions were rated as more effective in reducing stress than were mandatory. Walters. (1998) examined a sample of correctional officers and found that improving working conditions through job redesign. the nurses in this study continued to experience stress in the workplace. Although the authors found that. monitoring psychological disorders and risk factors. Forgan. formal CISD sessions. However. (2003). such as lowered blood pressure. compared to a control group. and improving psychological health services resulted in positive outcomes. officers who received CISD displayed increased coping and positive growth.Occupational Stress Research in Australia 161 lifestyle program involving relaxation techniques and biofeedback mechanisms.
. Alternatively. the authors pointed out that these findings could well be due to government policy changes implemented during the observation period. positive outcomes were recorded.. trend to focus on more organization-based interventions. such as voluntary health programs or relaxation training. Kohler.162 Caulfield. The success of the organization-focused approach supports the view that work stress and resulting mental health may be more strongly related to job factors.K. One might also expect differences in the outcomes of stress interventions depending on who takes responsibility for stress management.and organization-focused interventions (e. Munz. it is somewhat concerning that only one Australian intervention study focused on the organization. or aspects of the work environment. only one out of the two intervention studies reported positive outcomes. it may be that the choice of measure for the stress intervention is more important in reducing the stress experience than is the question of who takes responsibility. & Greenberg. Considering the implied influence that the work environment exerts. It appears that there would be value in future Australian research that not only explores the efficacy of various organizational interventions but also (stimulates and) evaluates combined individual.g. Research on processes of implementation is generally lacking in the literature. and Elshaug utilization of the staff counselor. We reluctantly conclude that. 2002. (2003) indicated that there may be a recent U. it is possible that only some employees will take part in the program.. The lack of organization-based intervention studies is a real barrier to progress in reducing work-related stress (Griffiths. However. For example. 1993). It may be possible that ensuring both organizational and individual responsibility can increase the likelihood of success in managing work stress. The results of European studies unfortunately do not seem to fare much better (Kompier et al. although Giga et al. . or possibly even a combination of both. Maslach & Schaufeli. There may be a number of reasons for this. than to individual factors (Dollard & Winefield. the state of knowledge regarding the effectiveness of stress management interventions in Australia is very limited. 2000). 1999. which made it harder for workers to receive compensation. such as modifying the demands on employees through job redesign or changing the organizational structure. at present. The results of the Australian intervention studies indicated that in three out of the four studies in which both the organization and the individual assumed responsibility for stress management. In contrast. 2000). increase the likelihood that more employees will benefit from the intervention. Kompier & Cooper. When the responsibility for stress management fell primarily on the individual. 1996). 2001). Chang. & Barlow. thereby reducing the overall expenditure. Dollard. Cox. organization-focused interventions. The success of a stress intervention is likely to depend not only on what is done but also on how it is done (Kompier et al. with individual-focused interventions.
it is apparent from our search strategy that there is a lack of published Australian intervention studies. 2001). The participants most regularly included in the studies reviewed were police officers. Finally. as well as a more concerted effort to include rural Australia. In addition. 1995). a lack of mental health resources (Blank. Hargrove. public service workers. Rural Australia is considered to be different from the urban sector in terms of health and well-being (Dollard. Thus. particularly in regard to organizational interventions. Because of their subjective nature. it is possible that differences exist in the stress experience of rural versus metropolitan workers. The results indicate a paucity of research studies conducted in rural settings. 2004). a large proportion of the research incorporated workers from the health services more often than from other occupational fields. This may help justify the cost of certain interventions or preventative measures. 1995). The preponderance of focus on “stress in the public sector” in the media and in the literature has been previously highlighted (Lewig & Dollard. Fox. & Winefield. & Turner. and it may be useful to combine their use with more objective criteria.Occupational Stress Research in Australia 163 It is interesting that all of the six intervention studies were from the public sector. Winefield. This may represent a greater concern within the public sector regarding the work stress experience. For example. our results indicate that the vast majority of empirical studies in Australia (as elsewhere) have relied on self-report measures to survey stress experienced by participants. and higher turnover rates for professionals (Harvey & Hodgson. Few would question the importance of occupational stress issues and the human and financial costs that this phenomenon incurs. and this pattern seems to be repeated overseas. or it may perhaps reflect a greater likelihood of the public sector to publish results. would add to the knowledge base highlighting any differences between populations and informing best practice for intervention in these target populations. it would be reasonable to expect ´ a large body of research to be available. In addition. Furthermore. the Australian inter- . However. 2001). it may be a question of greater resource availability within the public sector to implement stress management programs. selfreport measures may not provide a full picture of the stress experience. and nurses (see Table 2). a recent survey among nearly 16. 1999). a greater focus on longitudinal research designs may give a better indication of the effects of a particular stress intervention over the long term and the sustainability of outcomes. With higher unemployment rates. There is an obvious need for research and for the implementation and evaluation of intervention programs in the private sector as well (Macklin & Dollard. A greater emphasis on the private sector.000 European workers showed that approximately 30% reported work activities as the main cause of their health problems (Merllie & Paoli.
47. South Australia. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (1996). healthy organisation: A proactive approach to occupational stress. (1995). 511–524. The high cost of stress-related workers’ compensation claims highlights the need to spend more time evaluating work stress interventions and publishing the findings so that other organizations can gain insight into programs of merit. K. F.. Australia. (2001). Hargrove. Without further research. Linking parents’ work stress to children’s and adolescents’ psychological adjustment. Dollard.. and why. & Weintraub. C. F. L. Chang. Stress in the workplace: Australian master OHS and environment guide. Dollard. 455–470.. Sydney: CCH Australia Ltd. M. Community Mental Health Journal. & Dollard. there exists at present a large gap between theory and practice. M. The study of stress at work. (1996). B. M. F. 156–159. F. (2002). by publishing about successful processes. One might suspect that organizations have concerns about conducting stress research because exploring such issues within their workplaces could lead to an increase in work stress recognition and compensation claims. S. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. D. . 12. with only one study qualifying for a five-star rating (Craig & Hancock. A. University of South Australia. Blank. Fox. and the costs and limitations of various interventions need to be explored further. C. M.. and possibly increasing productivity. As Kompier et al. Healthy mind.. Another possibility is fear of giving the opposition a competitive advantage on handling work stress. and Elshaug vention studies we have reviewed in this article appear to be fraught with methodological flaws. (1994). Crouter. K. REFERENCES Baker.. Cooper. Work stress: Conceptualisations and implications for research methodology and workplace intervention. J. Assessing coping strategies: A theoretically based approach. S. few definite conclusions can be drawn regarding the success of various work stress interventions. Future work in this area should focus on uncovering Australian intervention studies or programs that have not been published and delving into the gray area of work stress interventions to find out what industry is actually doing to tackle the work stress situation. 6. D. Critical issues in reforming rural mental health service delivery. Human Relations. 367–381. J. 31. B. Annual Review of Public Health. C. & Turner. J. The lack of published intervention research may be due to the sensitivity of issues surrounding organizational stress research. & Cartwright. The influence of a healthy lifestyle program in a work environment: A controlled long-term study.164 Caulfield. Adelaide. Current Directions in Psychological Science. (2000) suggested. J. Carver. Questions surrounding the issue of whether stress prevention actually works. De Jonge. & Bumpus. C. 10. (1989). A. Craig. our knowledge of what works with regard to occupational stress will remain stunted. S. 1996). 56. T... 267–283. Journal of Occupational Health and Safety. which interventions are most effective. (1985). & Hancock. 193–206.. As a consequence. Scheier. M.
Windsor: NFER-Nelson. A. 17. 9. M. & Parasuraman. and coping. Winefield. D. Cooper (Eds. Robertson. (1990). Kompier. Dollard.. 115–133). (2000). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic. Kelly. H.. S. London: Routledge. 21–29). R. Adelaide.. Paper presented at the Stress Related Injury Conference: Measurement and Methodological Issues in Work Stress Research. A work and non-work interactive perspective of stress and its consequences. 37–60). Kompier. Dunnette. A multiple case study approach to work stress prevention in Europe. A.. (2002). unemployment and healthy jobs. Cox. (2002). R. B. A. Dollard. Ganster (Eds. C. improving productivity: European case studies in the workplace. Professional burnout: Recent developments in theory and research (pp. M. A. & Winefield. Stress. H. Forgan. Galluccio.. M. 38. (1998).. M. New South Wales. Psychological health in the workplace (pp. (1987). V. J. M. I. D. F. Evaluation of psychologically based workers’ compensation claims in the public sector. Karasek. Employer’s responsibilities for the assessment and control of work-related stress: A European perspective. Goldberg. H. & Folkman. Cooper. (1996)... F. & Cooper. & Winefield. (1995). Rural Social Work. & Geurts.. 159–165. & Winefield. (1999. April). (Eds. Giga. Health and Hygiene. Geurts. Melbourne: Australian Psychological Society. Emerging trends and vexing issues in industrial and organizational psychology. Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (2nd ed. P. Murphy. Preventing stress. Dollard.. New York: Springer. Mental health promotion and work: Issues and perspectives ). Cotton (Ed. T. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology... Philadelphia: Taylor & Francis. 9–33). 47. Winefield.). B. Ivancevich & D. J. Dollard. improving productivity: European case studies in the workplace (pp.. H. In P. & Byosiere.). Journal of Occupational Health and Safety. A. (1992). Hough (Eds.. S. J. Sydney. Canberra. F... CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.. F. M. F. .. & Williams. pp.. & Grundemann. Australia: Office for the Commissioner of Public Employment. C. appraisal. 129–153. A. J. In L. The UK perspective: A review of research on organisational stress management interventions. September). 33–43. Palo Alto. H. (1995). (1993). S. Winefield. E. & Barlow. L. (2000). & Freedy. In M... R. M. A. Commonwealth of Australia: National Occupational Health & Safety Commission . S.). Victoria.. New York: Haworth. & Theorell. M. F. 196–199. In W. productivity and the reconstruction of working life. (1988). Dunnette & L.). Kendall. Healthy work: Stress. S. (2001b). & Cooper. Verins.. & Hodgson.. Noblet. Occupational strain and efficacy in human service workers. et al. Kahn. H. Stress in organizations. (1999). D. C. L. New York: Basic Books. Australia: Auseinet & VicHealth. & Bursnall. Schaufeli & C. 371–400. 571–650). In M. 3–57). S. S. A. Australia: Centre for Human Services. & Winefield. Willis (Eds. 30. C. Five-year evaluation of a work stress intervention program. (1998). J. D. E. R. (2003).. R. Job stress: From theory to suggestion (pp. Australian Psychologist. R. A user’s guide to the General Health Questionnaire. 14. The impact of the relationship and family stresses in the workplace. Australia. M. I... H. Morrow.Occupational Stress Research in Australia 165 Dollard. M.. Greenhaus. In J. Faragher. Preventing stress. Griffith University. L. 158–164. O’Neill. Dollard. M. Lawton.). Australian Psychologist. Applied Psychology: An International Review. Maslach (Eds. 62–70. Occupational stress: Factors that contribute to its occurrence and effective management. M. A. Griffiths. Workplace stress and stress prevention in Europe.. S. F. Kompier & C. London: Routledge. Hobfoll. V. R. H. T. In The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission Symposium on the OHS implications of stress (pp.). (2001a. D. Lazarus. (1984).. Burnout and job satisfaction in rural and metropolitan social workers. M.. & E. C.. Mental health: Overemployment. A. Dordrecht. Knott. P. underemployment. Examination of relevant issues in the management of an injury. S. P. Conservation of resources: A general stress theory applied to burnout. Dollard..). (1999). Harvey. New directions for research and practice in psychology in rural areas. Work stress theory and interventions: From evidence to theory. (2001).
. (2001). (1996). Psychology applied to work (6th ed. Moran. M. and Elshaug Leonard. Scales for the measurement of work attitudes and psychological well-being. L. Psychology. Nelson. Applied Social Psychology Annual. 165–175. J. Washington.. 197–190. 270–275. Preventative stress management in organisations (2nd ed.. (2003). Adverse health effects of high-effort/low-reward conditions. Winefield. WorkCover Corporation of South Australia. International Journal of Stress Management.. Munz. Work & Stress. W. D. Kohler. (2001). S. (1987). 11. Quick. Dollard. CA: Consulting Psychologists Press. South Australia. Australia. & Greenberg. American Journal of Health Promotion. Ireland: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. International Journal of Stress Management. D.. C.). 3. H. Professional burnout: Recent development in theory and research (pp. 11. & van Dijk. 98–127. L. 259). F. (1996).166 Caulfield. Critical incident stress debriefing and its effects on coping strategies and anger in a sample of Australian police officers involved in shooting incidents. & Pointer. 13. Schaufeli. Compendium of workers’ compensation statistics. . (1993). Canberra. (2001). & T.. Campbell. 52. Australia: Author. W. & Dollard. Merllie.. & Colless. & Dollard. C. Blonk. (2000). H. (1979).. National Occupational Health and Safety Commission. Occupational stress in university staff. Muchinsky. South Australia. C. E. R. (1986). 7. Preventive strategies and surveillance indicators for organisational stress. J. 91. (2001). Murphy.. J. 2000–2001. & Schaufeli..).. M. E. Chang. In W. & Hurrell.. (1999). American Journal of Public Health.. Work stress management for women general practitioners: An evaluation.. S. C. Characteristics of open mental disorder claims. (2001). & Jarrett.. Maslach. A. S. 8. Repetti. J. B. CA: Wadsworth/ Thomson Learning. P.). 27–41. H. 9. Maslach. F. In C. J.. Palo Alto. (1997). 129–148. M. Maslach Burnout Inventory (2nd ed. A stress management program for nursing home staff: An evaluation of combined education and relaxation strategies. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. L. Winefield. J.. (2004).. Public and private work stress. 49–62. (2001). New York: Taylor & Francis. B. Work & Stress. The 1995 Australian Workplace and Industrial Relations Survey (AWIRS 95)—an OHS perspective. Work & Stress. & Wall. C. Effectiveness of a comprehensive worksite stress management program: Combining organizational and individual interventions. L. B. Siegrist. Australia: National Occupational Health and Safety Commission. Canberra. D. (1996). Quick. 1–18). Cooper (Ed. & Jackson. Australia. J.. Lewig. J. 112–135. Theories of organizational stress (p. J. (1998). M. J. R.). H. State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory manual. Journal of Occupational Psychology. 1. (1995). E. B. H. 168–171. J. T. Adelaide. D. Work stress and marriage: A theoretical model examining the relationship between workaholism and marital cohesion. Social construction of work stress: Australian newsprint media portrayal of stress at work. A. Perceptions of work stress in Australian firefighters... England: Oxford University Press... Adelaide. 8. 144–161. 8. R. Belmont. J. Health & Medicine. (1998). C. C. & Mandryk. I. C. A. Mitchell.). Oxford. M.. Van der Klink. C. (1998). J. D. B. 285–298. DC: American Psychological Association. Unpublished manuscript. International Journal of Stress Management. D.. Bond. 1997–98.. C. FL: Psychological Assessment Resources. Journal of Occupational Health Safety. R. Walters. L. J. ´ Dublin. Lutz. D. University of South Australia. (1995). Historical and conceptual development of burnout. P. D. Linkages between work and family roles. The benefits of interventions for work-related stress. (1999). Maslach. P. F. R. Australia: Author. Stress management in work settings: A critical review of the health effects. & Carroll.. Marek (Eds. Warr. Quick. Cook. 15. J. & Farmer. E. Robinson. D. Flowers. 405–415. L. Quick. Schene. Spielberger. & Alison. K. Ten years of working conditions in the European Union. 243–248. & Paoli. & Nelson. C. Macklin.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.