Occupational stress and strain in the Royal Navy 2007

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Abstract

Background

Previous surveys of psychological strain in the Naval Service (NS) have shown higher than expected levels of strain when compared to the general population.

Aim

To repeat the survey last carried out in 2004 and to obtain further information on the nature of the occupational stressors associated with strain.

Methods

General Health Questionnaire-12 strain rates and job/life stressors were measured using a Work and Well-Being Questionnaire. Models of strain were developed for male and female personnel in the Royal Navy (RN) and males in the Royal Marines (RM).

Results

The response rate was 57%. The psychological strain rate was 31.5% overall. Personnel suffering from strain tended to be ‘overcommitted’ to work, had low levels of commitment to the NS and had suffered stressful life events (SLEs) in the previous 12 months. Strain rates declined with age and rank in males, but not in females. Strain was significantly positively correlated with levels of overcommitment, effort–reward imbalance (ERI), role conflict, work–family conflict, organizational commitment and exposure to SLEs. Models of strain in the males and females in the RN and in the RM accounted for between 37 and 44% of the variance in strain.

Conclusions

The survey provides evidence for both the demand control and ERI models—components of these models contribute independently to strain. High levels of commitment to the organization were associated with lower strain and exposure to SLEs to higher strain.

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