An exploration of work-related stress and support structures experienced by occupational therapists working at a physical rehabilitation unit

Clarke, Jennifer (2016-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Introduction: Work-related stress is experienced in most working environments but can be particularly high in health-care environments. Support structures can help to alleviate the burden of work-related stress, but whether or not these structures are in place and adequate needs exploration. Aim: To explore and describe the work-related stress experienced by occupational therapists working at a physical rehabilitation unit and to determine whether the current support structures are addressing the work-related stress that they experience. Methods: This study was qualitative in nature. A phenomenological approach was used. Seven occupational therapists employed at the study setting were interviewed using semi-structured methods. Data was collected, transcribed and analysed by the researcher, and themes and sub-themes were extracted. Findings: All of the participants were experiencing quite high levels of work-related stress, mainly due to the nature of the work environment and challenges related to management and supervision. Other causes of stress were problems related to caseload, the role of the occupational therapist (OT) in the team, issues related to their colleagues and qualitative versus quantitative care delivery. The study also revealed that the participants were not satisfied with the support structures that were in place and had recommendations as to how the support structures could be improved to reduce work-related stress. Conclusion: The findings of the study confirmed the need for more effective support structures. Participants were quite vocal about the amount of stress and the lack of support they were experiencing – to the extent that they had to find alternative means of support. It was felt that management should show more awareness through acknowledging the therapists’ experiences, and that the organisation should put better support structures in place. Recommendations: Individual counselling, team building and group therapy sessions were recommended, as was decreasing the extent of responsibilities over-and-above the core job requirements or having smaller caseloads or more staff. Stellenbosch University https://scholar.sun.ac.za iv Among the many suggestions regarding managerial improvements were that managers should be more aware of the staff, help with the patients and be more empathetic. Improved communications through all levels of the Centre and a more representative measure of performance was also suggested.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Inleiding: Alhoewel werksverwante stress in die meeste werksomgewings voorkom is dit besonder hoog in die gesondheidsorg omgewing. Ondersteuningsstrukture kan help om die druk van werksverwante stres te verlig. Die beskikbaarheid en toereikendheid van ondersteuningsstrukture moet ondersoek word. Doel: Om die werksverwante stres wat arbeidsterapeute werksaam by ’n fisiese rehabilitasie eenheid ondervind te ondersoek en te beskryf, asook om vas te stel of die bestaande ondersteuningsstrukture hul werksverwante stres aanspreek. Metode: Die studie was kwalitatief van aard. ’n Fenomenologiese benadering is gevolg. Data is ingesamel deur semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude, met sewe arbeidsterapeute, indiens van die Wes-Kaapse Rehabilitasie Sentrum. Die navorser het alle data ingesamel, getranskribeer en geanaliseer. Temas en sub-temas is ge-identifiseer tydens tematiese analise. Bevindinge: Alle deelnemers het hoë vlakke van werksverwante stres beskryf. Volgens deelnemers was dit grootliks te wyte aan die aard van die werksomgewing, sowel as uitdagings met betrekking tot bestuur en toesighouding. Ander oorsake van stres het die werkslading, die rol van die arbeidsterapeut in die span, inter kollegeale spanning en ’n kwalitatiewe benadering tot pasiënt sorg ingesluit. Deelnemers was nie tevrede met die ondersteuningsstrukture wat in plek was tydens die study nie. Gevolgtrekking: Die studie bevindings het die noodsaaklikheid van ondersteuningsstrukture beklemtoon. Die deelnemers was besonder uitgesproke oor die hoeveelheid stres en die tekort aan ondersteuning wat hulle ervaar het. Hulle moes meestal self sorg dat hulle die nodige ondersteuning kry. Deelnemers was van mening dat bestuurders meer begrip kan toon vir die omstandighede waaronder terapeute gewerk het en dat die organisasie ondersteuningsstrukture moet inisieër. Aanbevelings: Deelnemers het individuele beradingsessies, spanbou en groep terapiesessies aanbeveel. Voorts het hulle aanbeveel dat verantwoordelikhede wat nie deel van hulle kern rol is nie verminder word en dat die pasiënt lading van terapeute verlaag word. Terapeute het klem gelê op aanbevelings wat betrekking het op bestuurders soos dat bestuurders empatie sal hê met terapeute, ’n groter Stellenbosch University https://scholar.sun.ac.za vi bewustheid van terapeute se posisie aan die dag sal lê en dat hule ’n klein kliniese lading sal dra. Verbeterde kommunikasie op alle vlakke van die instansie en ‘n meer verteenwoordigende metode om prestasie te meet is ook aanbeveel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98740
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