Work stress: an exploratory study of the practices and perceptions of female junior healthcare managers


Karen Rodham
Department of Psychiatry
University of Oxford
Warneford Hospital
Oxford OX3 7JX


Aim:  This exploratory study set out to investigate the perceptions and practices of junior healthcare managers with regard to stress at work.

Background:  It has been suggested that cultural change is needed to accommodate a shift towards recognition of organizational responsibility for stress (Schulz et al. 1985). Logically, it can be argued that junior healthcare managers, as potential future senior managers, are best placed to facilitate this change. Junior healthcare managers' current thinking about stress had not yet been explored in depth.

Method:  A combination of critical incident diaries and semistructured interviews was conducted with six junior healthcare managers. The data were analysed and transcribed using a grounded theory approach.

Findings:  The main themes to emerge were that junior healthcare managers were generally unaware of (a) potential work stressors and (b) the effect of work stressors on their own health and performance and that of their staff.

Conclusions:  The perceptions and practices of junior healthcare managers suggest that there is a culture of acceptance and expectation of work stress, combined with a lack of awareness to effectively and proactively manage it.