Stress at Work: Who Is Affected Most?

Teachers, nurses, managers and police officers are among the occupations reporting the highest levels of work-related stress.

The UK''s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a research report showing that teachers, nurses managers and professionals are among the occupations reporting the highest levels of work-related stress.

The report, "The scale of occupational stress: A further analysis of the impact of demographic factors and type of job," is based on research carried out at the University of Bristol by a team led by Professor Andy Smith.

An earlier report from the same study showed that as many as one in five of Britain''s workers report being very or extremely stressed by their work.

The key findings of the report are:

  • The occupational groups reporting high stress most commonly were teaching, nursing, management, professionals, social workers, road transport, security and police officers. In all these groups at least one in five reported high stress.
  • Full-time workers reported being more stressed than part-time workers.
  • Being highly stressed was reported most by those in managerial and technical occupations, those educated to degree level and those earning more than $20,000 (UK).
  • Non-white workers reported higher levels of stress than white workers.
  • There was little difference in reported stress levels between men and women.

The authors cautioned that their analysis does not prove that there is a cause- and-effect relationship between stress and any of the factors mentioned. However, the data is suggestive of such links.

"Our previous research tried to give an indication of the scale of perceived occupational stress in the workforce as a whole," said Smith. "The new analyses show that there are clearly some sub-groups who reported higher levels of stress than others, and it is possible to relate these differences to demographic and job characteristics. Further research is now required to extend the findings of our analyses to determine what underlines individual differences in reporting stress at work."

HSE intends to commission further research to examine the factors underlying why some people in particular groups report being stressed and others do not.

"This research confirms that there is no room for complacency about work-related stress," said Elizabeth Gyngell, senior policy manger in HSE''s Health Directorate. "Although we now know more about how stress affects particular groups, it can affect anyone at any time. We know that stress can lead to ill health for individuals, and to financial losses for their employers. It is in everyone''s interests to help tackle it."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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