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AbstractTo examine stress amongst a group of midwives, and establish whether perceived occupational stress actually originates from sources not connected to the work environment. Although many research projects have looked at stress within the N.H.S. very little research has previously been done addressing midwives. Midwives working in an N.H.S. Trust maternity unit. The sickness rates amongst this group were believed to have increased during a recent period of organisational restructuring, with "stress" cited as the main cause for absence. A random sample of one hundred midwives completed three questionnaires. One on basic demographic data, a second on stress analysis - The professional life scale (Fontana 1989), and a third on life style and experiences, which may contribute to stress and anxiety (Holmes and Rahe 1967). Only 6% of midwives scored high on the stress questionnaire. 47% scored low and 47% scored moderately. However, 25% scored high on the life style and experiences questionnaire. The results indicate a predisposition to ill health as a consequence of stress and life changes. There was no correlation between stress and life change scores. High stress scores were not associated with life changes or problems exclusively at home. The replies may suggest a need to analyse personality and individual coping mechanisms as a predisposing factor in relation to stress. Stress was related to organisational change and also to home - work conflicts. Personality and/or individual coping mechanisms may be a major contributing factor in determining the way an individual perceives and copes with a potentially stressful situation. It is possible that the personality characteristics of the midwives are the most important determining factors for their perception of, and experience of, stress. Whilst the total amount of life changes itself does seem to influence the stress level, the amount of change required to produce a physiological stress response in each person appears to be dependent on the individual's perception and coping mechanisms. The sickness rate is measured by management every week, and the absence reported by staff as being due to stress has increased dramatically since the organisational changes were introduced. The current way of thinking within this and possibly other large organisations appears to be the employment of stress counsellors and staff support workers. From these results, this may not appear to be the most appropriate way to deal with the issue of stress.
TypeThesis or dissertation
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