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Research Companion to Organizational Health Psychology

Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou and Cary L. Cooper

This timely Research Companion is essential reading to advance the understanding of healthy behaviours within working environments and to identify problems which can be the cause of illness. Containing both theoretical and empirical contributions written by distinguished academics working in Europe, North America and Australia, the book covers leading edge topics ranging from current theories of stress, stress management, and stress in specific occupational groups, such as doctors and teachers, to the relationship of stress with well-being. It provides systematic approaches towards practical actions and stress interventions in working environments and a solid theoretical framework for future research. It will be an essential companion to research on psychology and medicine as well as stress.
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Chapter 7: Stress and Strain at Work: How Much is There, Who has Most and are Things Changing?

Roy L. Payne


Roy L. Payne In 1979 two colleagues and I published a short paper entitled ‘Exploding the myth of executive stress’ (Fletcher et al., 1979). Encouraged by academic books such as The failure of success (Morrow, 1963) and the classic Organizational Stress: Studies in Role Conflict and Ambiguity (Kahn et al., 1964) and highly successful novels such as Something Happened by Joseph Heller, the media of the 1960s and 1970s did much to promote the idea that executive life was highly stressful and that executives were the unsung super heroes of western societies (well, protestant ethic-driven societies anyway). Our paper, based on the following sorts of data, tried to dispel this myth. Table 7.1 shows data derived from a survey of 1 per cent of the community based in a town in South Australia. The paper was published in 1977 but the survey was carried out in 1972 (Finlay-Jones and Burville, 1977). The table contains data for the 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire (Goldberg, 1972) and it shows the percentage of people classified as ‘cases of minor psychological distress’ broken down by social class. Note that the sample is of people residing in the community, so it does not include severely ill people in mental hospitals and so on. A person is classified as a ‘case’if they report having three or more of the 12 symptoms assessed by the GHQ-12. Social class is based on education, income and occupation. Social class 1 includes those in the...

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