Journal of Environmental and Public Health / 2012 / Article / Tab 5

Review Article

A Synthesis of the Evidence for Managing Stress at Work: A Review of the Reviews Reporting on Anxiety, Depression, and Absenteeism

Table 5

Studies of interventions reaching narrative conclusions without meta-analyses of effect sizes.

OutcomeNumber of studies, date range, and key objective of reviewMH ↑MHMHA↑AANarrative conclusions

Egan et al., 200718 studies
1981–2006
Psychosocial and health effects of workplace reorganisation Organisational level interventions to improve employee control
61841Some evidence of improved mental health as employee control increases and, less consistently, when demands decrease

Lamontagne et al., 200790 studies
1990–2005
Job stress intervention literature
201202118Individual focussed, low rates systems approaches are effective at the individual level on anxiety and depression
Organisationally focussed high and moderately rated systems approach interventions for job stress show favourable impacts at both organisational and individual levels. Of high rated studies, almost all showed decline in absenteeism

The BOHRF, 200519 experimental studies
12 nonexperimental studies
Up until April 2004
Workplace interventions for people with common mental health problems
171431Early psychological interventions, including CBT and a range of stress management interventions, are effective for common mental health problems
Individual stress management approaches were effective and preferable to multimodal interventions for reducing stress
CBT effective for sickness absences associated with common mental health problems

Edwards and Burnard, 200370 studies
1966–2000
Effectiveness of stress management for nursing in UK
511Six stress management intervention studies in UK and one in The Netherlands show that training in behavioural techniques improved levels of sickness in psychiatric nurses. Levels of psychological distress reduced following a 15 week training course in therapeutic skills
A great deal is known about stress at work, how to measure it, and impact on many outcomes. However, we lack research into the impact of interventions that attempt to moderate, minimise, or eliminate stressors

Murphy, 199664 studies
1974–1994
Health impacts of worksite stress management interventions
31451CBT was more effective for psychological outcomes,
Combination of techniques, muscle relaxation plus CBT seemed more effective across different outcomes

Giga, 200316 studies
1990–2001
Types of stress management interventions used reduce stress in UK over a decade
1011Programs that target the individual level were less likely to have an impact on organisational measures
Organisational and individual-organisational interventions lead to improvements in health and organisational performance
Individual programs were associated with improvements in mental and emotional well-being
Action researchers felt the level of intervention was not important but that combination of strategies that addressed employees’ needs was critical

Van der Hek and
Plomp, 1997
24 studies
1987–1994
Occupational stress management programmes
812It is impossible to recommend which techniques or interventions are most effective and should be recommended
There is some evidence that organisationa1 interventions show the best results at the individual-organisational interface and on organisational performance

Mimura and Griffiths, 200310 studies
1990 onwards
Work place stress interventions for nurses
73More evidence for personal support rather than environmental management for workplace stress
Cannot answer which approach is more effective

Parkes and Sparkes,
1998
9 studies
(dates not reported)
All case studies of participatory action research
36Studies difficult to interpret showing ambiguous findings for impact of individual or organisational interventions

Michie and Williams, 20036 intervention studies
1987–1999
Reducing work related psychological illness and sickness absence
212Interventions that improve psychological health and reduce sickness absence used training and organisational approaches to increase participation in decision making and problem solving, increasing support, feedback, and improved communication

Caulfield et al., 20046 interventions studies
1993–2003
All peer-reviewed empirical research on occupational stress interventions conducted in Australia in 10 years
21Interventions have been primarily individually rather than organisationally focused. Only one was organisationally focused
Overall, individually focused interventions do not seem to perform particularly well at lowering work stress
Critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) has produced mixed results. On the other hand, seminar-based programmes appear to produce better outcomes

Cancelliere et al., 201114 studies
1990–2010
Workplace health promotion (WHP) in improving presenteeism
104Exercise is beneficial in improving presenteeism (not known which specific type of exercise)
WHP interventions should be long, intense and frequent and should be based on theory (e.g., behaviour change model)
WHP should include physical activity, ergonomic changes and multi-dimensional prevention programmes

MH = mental health, including measures of depression, anxiety, stress, psychosomatic disorder and symptoms, psychiatric symptoms, GHQ; excluding emotional well being or not, and measures of capabilities.
A = absenteeism.
↑ evidence of improvement, evidence of deterioration, no evidence of change.

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