Occupational Stress In A Workspace

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Stress to a normal extent increases workers’ performance and life quality since people have to face and enjoy challenges in day-to-day life but if excessive and beyond the beneficial aspect, it imposes harm on an individual as well as organizations. It will lead to complications that can be physiological (such as hypertension, heart diseases), behavioral such as substance abuse, and emotional like depression and anxiety. Besides, it affects the efficiency of organizations, the stability of staff at the workplace as well as the worker’s satisfaction in the job.

The prevalence of occupational stress in this study was 46.8%. This is in agreement with a study in South Africa 51%  but higher than from Taiwan 17.5%, Malaysia 33.3%, and Ethiopia 38%. A study from Jordan revealed occupational stress among general physicians, dentists, pharmacists, and physician assistants was 33%, 32%, 25% and 19% respectively which is also lower than the current study. Possible reasons may be measurement tools used, study population, and setting.

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GHQ was used in Jordan, Taiwan, and Malaysia but the nursing stress scale in the current study. Study subjects were general physicians, dentists and physician assistants for Jordan, laboratory technicians for Malaysia, and nurses for Taiwan and Earlier Ethiopian study but in the current study almost all health professions were considered. Besides, the setting in the current study is a psychiatric hospital but non-psychiatric units in previous studies.

On the contrary, it is relatively lower than published studies in different countries like Northern Ireland 57.5%, Ayub Medical College in Pakistan, 52%, India, 73.5%, and Ethiopia, 58%. A study in Taiwan showed that 66% of nurses, 61.8% of physician assistants, 38.6% of physicians had occupational stress. This was also higher than the result of the current study. The sample size difference, difference in methods and organizational culture, as well as social and cultural issues, might contribute to this. Besides this, the difference in risk factors between current and previous studies may cause this variation.

The most common source of stress in the workplace among study respondents was found to be a conflict with other staff 222(56.5%) followed by conflict with supervisor 221(56.2%). This was in contrast to another study result in Ethiopia in which the death & dying subscale, uncertainty about patient treatment, and workload were most identified sources of stress with a mean score of 62.94 %, 57.72 %, and 57.6 % respectively.

The working unit was significantly associated with occupational stress in professionals working in emergency OPD were at 3.5 time’s higher risk as compared to health care staffs working in Pharmacy/laboratory/office. This was supported by a study done in emergency department Nurses in Taiwan and a study in Ethiopia which showed that working in emergency units and medical wards was significantly associated with occupational stress. A possible reason for this might be an emergency unit is mostly dealing with critical patients and professionals are uncertain of the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Working in a forensic psychiatric unit was also 9 times at higher risk as compared to health care staff working in Pharmacy/laboratory/office.

The findings of the current study showed that there was an opposite relationship between satisfaction in the job and the risk of occupational stress. Health care workers who were dissatisfied in their job was at 2.6 times higher risk of occupational stress as compared to professional satisfied with their job. This finding was supported by a study from southwest Ethiopia which concludes as there was a reciprocal relation between occupational stress and job satisfaction. Besides, a study done in Sao Paulo is also in line with this idea. The possible reason might be dissatisfaction in the job may cause low self-esteem, hopelessness, poor interpersonal relationships, and poor skill of coping from stress and will stigmatize them.

Socio-demographic variables such as age, sex, education, marital status, having children were not risk factors for occupational stress in this study. This is against the findings of studies in the USA and the difference might be due to socio-cultural differences between professionals in the USA and Ethiopia.

However, using a nursing stress scale for the assessment of occupational stress in health professionals is a limitation of this study since no validated tool to assess stress for the health professional in Ethiopia. Additionally, it is difficult to explore the causal relationship between occupational stress and its risk factors since the study is cross-sectional. Moreover, the shortage of studies in Ethiopia makes it difficult to compare this result with other studies in Ethiopia. 

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