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Combined workplace stressors and their relationship with mood, physiology, and performance

Wellens, Benjamin T. and Smith, Andrew Paul ORCID: 2006. Combined workplace stressors and their relationship with mood, physiology, and performance. Work & Stress 20 (3) , pp. 245-258. 10.1080/02678370601022712

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The majority of working individuals are exposed to low levels of a large number of potential stressors. Although each is unlikely to be particularly detrimental in itself, such stressors may be harmful cumulatively. The aim of this study was to investigate whether exposures to combinations of stressors were associated with harmful levels on some measures of mood, physiology, and performance. The study was conducted with 84 participants, all employed, mostly “white-collar” workers. A questionnaire was administered and physiological outcome measures were taken on four occasions: before and after work on the first and last days of one working week (repeated measures, within-subjects factor). Workers were categorized as exposed to either: (1) no stressors, (2) temporal stressors only, (3) physical stressors only, or (4) both temporal and physical stressors (between-subjects factor). Data were analysed using mixed design ANOVAs. Key significant between-subjects effects were found for blood pressure and salivary cortisol; participants exposed to a combination of stressors had significantly elevated levels of both. The identified physiological differences are tentatively supported by the literature and can be explained by increased subjective stress levels. Significant differences in performance were not found. This may be explained by methodological issues, or participants’ increased effort expended to perform on the tasks. It is concluded that the consideration of combined (low level) stressors and cumulative exposure is important in assessing the health risk associated with the work environment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Uncontrolled Keywords: Blood pressure, salivary cortisol, performance, combined stressors, work-related stress, cumulative effects, phsiology
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0267-8373
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 09:38

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