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Stress management in work settings: a critical review of the health effects.

Murphy LR
Am J Health Promot 1996 Nov; 11(2):112-135
A critical review of the research literature on the health effects of worksite stress management intervention was undertaken. To be included in the review, a worksite stress management study needed to be published in the peer reviewed literature and had to assess a health outcome. Sixty four studies met the criteria for inclusion. In these studies, a variety of techniques were used, including muscle relaxation, meditation, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral skills, and combinations of these. The most common techniques used were muscle relaxation, cognitive behavioral skills and combinations of techniques. Outcome measures to evaluate the success of stress interventions included physiologic and psychologic measurements, somatic complaints, and job related measures. Only 30% of studies conducted posttraining follow up evaluations. The effectiveness of stress interventions varied according to the health outcome measure used. While some techniques were more effective for psychologic outcomes, others were more effective for physiologic outcomes. Biofeedback was the least frequent technique used and also seemed to be the least effective. Meditation produced the most consistent results across outcome measures but was used in only six studies. In general, studies using a combination of techniques were more effective across outcome measures than single techniques. According to the author, conclusions about the efficacy of different stress management techniques are difficult to make due to the large number of techniques and the wide range of health outcomes measures used. However, the most positive results were reported using a combination of two or more techniques. None of the interventions was consistently effective in producing effects on organization relevant outcomes such as absenteeism or job satisfaction, and changes in these measures require altering or modifying the sources of stress in the work environment. The choice of which stress management technique to use should be based on the specific health outcomes targeted for change.
Job-stress; Physiological-stress; Psychological-stress; Muscle-tension; Absenteeism; Worker-health; Behavioral-testing; Psychophysiological-testing
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Journal Article
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American Journal of Health Promotion
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division