Work characteristics and well-being among psychiatric health-care staff

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Abstract

Research into stress among health care professionals has tended to neglect staff employed in psychiatric settings. This article reports a study of psychiatric health care workers which focuses on objective work factors (job type, and community versus hospital setting) and the subjective work environment (perceived demand, discretion, and supervisor and co-worker support) as predictors of two affective outcomes (somatic symptoms and job satisfaction). Data were collected by questionnaire (n = 145) and analysed within the framework of the demand–discretion model of job stress. Objective job characteristics were significantly related to the perceived environment measures. Hierarchical regression was used to examine the extent to which each outcome was predicted by age, gender and negative affectivity (NA), by job type and work setting, and by the work environment measures. For somatic symptoms, the major predictors were NA, job type (higher occupational levels being associated with lower symptom scores), and perceived demand. In contrast, satisfaction was predicted by discretion, by both measures of support, and by the demand–discretion interaction; markedly low satisfaction was associated with high demand, low discretion conditions. Over and above these effects, NA, job type and hospital versus community work setting were significant predictors of outcome. These results are discussed in relation to the literature on stress in psychiatric health-care, and job stress more generally.

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