Psychosocial factors and economic recession

The Stormont Study
Background: Little research has explored changes in workers' psychosocial hazard exposures, work-related stress and stress-related absence associated with the onset of unprecedented severe economic recession.Knowledge of these could inform psychosocial risk management measures appropriate to austere economic times.
Aims: To examine civil servants' psychosocial hazard exposures, work-related stress and stress-related absence during a period of economic recession, relative to levels prior to the onset of this period.
Methods: Analyses compared the findings of two surveys of employees of the Northern Ireland Civil Service conducted in 2005 (n 5 17 124), prior to the onset of recession, and in 2009 (n 5 9913), during a period of economic recession.
Results: Psychosocial hazard exposures were significantly worse during the recession than prior to it. These results are considered in relation toUKgovernment exposure targets.Work-related stress and absence ascribed to work-related stress were significantly greater during recession than prior to it.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates adverse changes in psychosocial hazard exposures, work-related stress prevalence and stress-related sickness absence associated with the onset of an unprecedented economic recession. Its findings indicate the need for a concerted focus on psychosocial risk management activities during austere economic times as a means by which to promote worker health and minimize sickness absence.

Source : J. Houdmont, R. Kerr and K. Addley. Psychosocial factors and economic recession: the Stormont Study. Occup Med. 2012, 62 (2), p. 98-104.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqr216

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