Stress and coping in university employees: a longitudinal evaluation of stress, personality, coping and psychological distress
Connolly, J. (2013) Stress and coping in university employees: a longitudinal evaluation of stress, personality, coping and psychological distress, no. 291.
Background: Internationally, high levels of stress and Psychological Distress have been identified in university employees. There have been calls to investigate stress over time and to include measures of coping and personality. This study provides the first longitudinal assessment of stress and Psychological Distress and examines the role of personality and coping in university employees during campus relocation Method: All 500 employees in Queen Margaret University were invited to complete standardised measures assessing Psychological Distress and sources of stress (HSE Indicator Tool) before (N = 143) and after relocation (N = 116). Participants also completed measures assessing Job Satisfaction, Personality, Coping and additional demographic information. Findings: High levels of Psychological Distress were identified before relocation (42%) and at 6 months (38%). Academic staff had a higher prevalence of Distress following relocation. Matched pair analyses (N = 48) showed the majority of stress sources remained stable from T1 to T2 with one significant decrease in reported levels of Control. Stressors explained 31.8% of the variance in Psychological Distress even when the effects of pre-specified variables (Neuroticism, Coping and age) were controlled. Employees with higher levels of Neuroticism and Emotion focused coping had significantly higher levels of Psychological Distress. Discussion and conclusions: Psychological Distress was higher than in population norms and other occupational groups. The primary stressors were identified and targets (based on national benchmarks) suggested. On-going monitoring and actions aimed at reducing stress and improving Psychological Distress are warranted. This is one of the first studies to assess the relationship between the management standards (indicated by the HSE Indicator tool) and stress outcome, and to use a matched participant design to assess change in the management standards. That the Management standards predict Psychological Distress lends support to the use of the management standards approach.