Measurement of stress levels may be flawed

How organisations measure stress levels and their impact on the health of
workers may be flawed, a study commissioned by the HSE has found.

The review, the first ever carried out by the HSE on measures of workplace
stressors, found the amount and quality of evidence on different measures was
limited. There was only sufficient evidence available to provide a detailed
analysis of five of the 25 common stress measures used in UK organisations.

Even where good evidence was available, it tended to be inconsistent and
unreliable and there was an almost complete lack of evidence on their
predictive power.

This, said the team from the Institute for Employment Studies and Birkbeck
College, London, was particularly worrying because this was the main purpose of
such measures.

It warned that stress measures therefore may not be accurately measuring the
aspects of the work environment that lead to ill-health.

This meant that organisations could be focusing on changing aspects of the
workplace that were not necessarily harmful and failing accurately to diagnose
real stresses.

More information was needed on the reliability and validity of existing
stress measures, the study, A critical review of psychological hazard measures,
concluded.

www.hse.gov.uk

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