Work-related stress in a humanitarian context: a qualitative investigation

Jachens, Liza and Houdmont, Jonathan and Thomas, Roslyn (2018) Work-related stress in a humanitarian context: a qualitative investigation. Disasters . ISSN 1467-7717

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Abstract

There is a paucity of research into the subjective stress-related experiences of humanitarian aid workers (HAWs). Most studies investigating stress in HAWs focus on trauma and related conditions or adopt a quantitative approach. This interview-based study explored how HAWs (n=58) employed by a United Nations aligned organisation perceived the transactional stress process. Thematic analysis revealed eight main themes. An emergency culture was found where most employees felt compelled to offer an immediate response to humanitarian needs. Employees experienced a strong identification with humanitarian goals and reported high engagement. The rewards of humanitarian work were perceived as motivating and meaningful. Constant change and urgent demands resulted in work overload. Managing work-life boundaries and receiving positive support from colleagues and managers helped buffer perceived stress, work overload and negative health outcomes. The practical implications of the results are discussed and suggestions made in light of current research and stress theory.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Humanitarian aid worker, Qualitative interviews, Work-related stress, Health, Well-being
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine > Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology
Identification Number: 10.1111/disa.12278
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 05 May 2017 09:41
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2018 09:43
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/42542

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