Occupational Stress – Health System Example

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"Occupational Stress" is a wonderful example of a pape on the health systems. Healthcare professionals are susceptible to face negative implications of occupational stress due to organizational factors that may include an improper balance of demands, skills, and poor or lack of social support from management at work. Under some extreme conditions of stress, occupational stress in a healthcare setting can easily lead to severe distress and psychosomatic diseases. It also results in burnout and poor or reduced quality of life and poor quality service provision. By definition, burnout is negative and persistent work-related stress resulting in a state of mental disorder in 'normal' workers.

The most common characteristic of this state of mind is exhaustion accompanied by psychological distress, observed reduction ineffectiveness at work, reduced motivation to work, and lastly the development of dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors in professionals at work (Luthans, 2002). Although burnout develops slowly and gradually, it may remain undetected for quite sometime before detection. The most common cause of burnout is a misfit between intentions at the workplace and reality at the job. According to Cooper et al (2001), burnout is in most cases a self-perpetuating condition because of poor coping strategies associated with it.

Furthermore, personal coping or the ability to deal with environmental stressors at an individual level facilitates burnout and occupational stress results from exposure to stressors at work and their effects (Cooper et al, 2001). In a healthcare setting, burnout is a specific form of psychological stress in the workplace and not a clinical diagnosis. Burnout in itself comes with adverse economic impacts such as absenteeism and turnover (Raiger, 2005; Aldred, 2001). Research attributes more than 10% of overall allegations of occupational diseases are to occupational stress.

There are many agents of stress (stressors) in the healthcare setup that increase the risk of subjecting workers to distress and burnout. Such stress factors include increasing workload, lack of involvement in planning and implementation of change, poor motivation, inadequate resources, exposure to infectious patients, emotional response to contact, and exposure to seriously suffering and dying patients, inadequate resources, exposure to toxic substances, and organizational problems and inefficiency in managing conflicts (McNeely, 2005). In addition, research by Raiger (2005) shows that levels of employee dissatisfaction, occupational distress alongside burnout at work are quite rampant in healthcare settings. For effective lessening of the impact of various psychosocial risk factors, occupational stress management programs and intervention strategies should be designed with more focus on healthcare workers and settings.

These interventions focus directly on the risk factors in the workplace or focus on how to deal with individual persons. The latter considers factors such as increasing the individual's ability to cope with stress in the working environment. Research indicates that interventions are the most effective methods to manage and reduce the effects of occupational stress in various workplaces (van der et al, 2001).

However, Mimura & Griffiths (2003) reviews interventions that focus particularly on interventions used to minimize or prevent stress in healthcare settings. The levels of psychological stress and ill health seem to be higher in healthcare employees than in non-healthcare workplaces and professionals (Michie & Williams, 2003). Therefore, due to the characteristics of interventions aimed at treating and preventing occupational stress for healthcare workers may vary from those intervention strategies applied in other occupations.

The main aim of this paper is to identify occupational stressors in the healthcare setting and management strategies to minimize negative impact. Causes of stress in a healthcare settingConflict and ambiguity in healthcare workplaces are some of the major causes of stress. poor definition of roles or conflicting roles can cause stress. The probability for job development is an important buffer against occupational stress. This comes with lack of training, poor motivation measures, under promotion, and job insecurity as stress factors. Critical, demanding, unsupportive, or ineffective management create stress within workplaces. Furthermore, inadequate resources in healthcare settings present workers with an environment where they are unable to deliver their services with ease.

This again becomes a major source of stress. Likewise, failure by management to involve workers in planning and decision-making is a serious agent for stress since workers may be reluctant to accept changes. Additionally, lack of management rewards and poor motivation within workplaces, coupled with exposure to toxic substances and exposure to suffering and dying patients affects workers psychologically and hence a stress realization among workers in a healthcare setting. Management Behavior and Stress LevelsManagement behavior handling situations in an organization has a great impact on gauging the levels of occupational stress.

Behaviors such as little say in decision-making, absence of constructive advice, poor role clarification, poor change management, negative performance appraisal, and employment discrimination are factors that encourage occupational stress in workplaces. Furthermore, Russell and Roach (2002) argue that management’ s lack of support and advice to employees, poor disciplinary procedure, discrimination on employees, poor supervisory strategies such as harassment, poor communication, and lack of feedback about performance is are among management behaviors that increase levels of occupational stress within the healthcare setting (Luthans, 2002). Negative impacts of occupational stress in a healthcare settingMost epidemiological evidence has a clear indication that occupational stress related to healthcare facilities is the greatest cause of work-related illness and injury.

Such diseases caused include cardiovascular, psychological distress, suicide, depressive symptoms, psychological distress, general mental illness, and psychiatric disorders. It also has negative impacts on the general organization in relation to absenteeism and reduced performance, which in turn results in poor services.

Having these implications in mind, national and state figures indicate that the health sector has 20% compensation claims, the highest compared to all other sectors (Russell and Roach, 2002). Interventions for managing stressors within workplace environments1. Individual-directed interventionsIndividual-directed interventions are quite straightforward and use different methods such as cognitive-behavior, relaxation training, music-making, and AMMA touch therapy (Yung, 2004; Bittman et al, 2003; McElliott, 2003). Furthermore, Cohen-Katz et al (2005) argue for a multicomponent intervention strategy that employs pre-existing mindfulness, which is a Based Stress Reduction program. The program contains group sessions of clearly defined and informative instructions and exercises aimed at enhancing communication skills, managing individual reaction to stress, and self-compassion.

Ewers et al (2002), applies a regime of training that puts much focus on practical skills to reduce distress and improve functioning with workers suffering from schizophrenia. 2. Work-directed interventionsDelvaux et al (2004) argue that training programs that incorporate theory, experimental changes, and role-playing plays a vital role in improving attitudes, managing occupational stress, and improving communication skills and occupational stress. Training programs that involve mobilization of support from workers and learning participatory problem-solving strategies and decision-making skills help a great deal in managing occupational.

Schrijnemaekers et al, (2003) posit on interventions aimed at introducing resolutions in nursing delivery through changes in work environments, training, knowledge and skills, and support from supervisors. 3. Multiple interventionsResearch by Yung et al (2004) compares more than one intervention to no intervention strategies. An adaptive coping training and conditions with the same training alongside refresher sessions are also very effective in combating occupational stress. Yung et al (2004) compared cognitive relaxation against stress-release relaxation. With this comparison, it is important to make a choice regarding which active interventions to take into meta-analyses.

With Yung et al (2004), cognitive relaxation conditions seem more effective since cognitive intervention for cognitive stress is conceptually strong. ConclusionThe results obtained from various literature reviews indicate that occupational stress within the healthcare setting is a matter that needs clear management as it comes with serious negative implications. It is evident that the management of any healthcare facility plays a significant role in determining the levels of stress within the working environment. It is also evident that work-related stress can result in mental illness, psychological impacts among other diseases.

These findings are insightful in explaining the impacts of occupational stress in workplaces, and support existing literature on the relationship between occupational stress and health. In the literature, occupational stress correlates negatively with perceived health status among workers. Thus, health professionals with high levels of stress report having poorer health implications as compared to individuals facing less stressful situations (Lee, 2003). Furthermore, the preponderance of studies based on negative impacts of occupational stress and its management ponders that occupational stress management has become an increasingly popular and most vital field of research.

All the literature reviews examined stress on the need for developing valid, valuable, and effective interventions for managing stress as the negative implications of occupational stress in all sectors affect both workers and companies becomes. Previous interventions for the management of occupational stress have been used with the unpredictable extent of success. However, management interventions designed to have approaches that are more positive will help prevent and minimize stress in workplaces.

Furthermore, management should a clear viewpoint of how to overcome stress and come up with codes of conduct to avoid negative behaviors such as poor motivation and poor communication of change.


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