Stress and staff support strategies for international aid work

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Abstract

This article will explore a variety of stressors affecting humanitarian aid workers operating in an increasingly challenging environment and review structures for aid worker support. It will summarise the findings of a workplace stress survey conducted in 2009 by a large international aid organisation and provide a comparative analysis with the 2003 stress survey carried out within the same organisation. The article presents the results of respondent self evaluations relating to key sources of stress in humanitarian aid work and includes an analysis of results by sub-group, comparing staff operating in humanitarian emergencies and those working in the relative safety and security of headquarters environments, male and female, and national and international staff. Finally, the article offers a review of the effectiveness of a range of organisational staff support strategies, including a peer helper programme.

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