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Journal of Educational Administration

Job Stressors and Their Effects on Physical Health, Emotional Health and Job Satisfaction in a University
Jagdish K. Dua

Article information:
To cite this document:
Jagdish K. Dua, (1994),"Job Stressors and Their Effects on Physical Health, Emotional Health and Job Satisfaction in a
University", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 32 Iss 1 pp. 59 - 78
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09578239410051853

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Kerry Fairbrother, James Warn, (2003),"Workplace dimensions, stress and job satisfaction", Journal of Managerial Psychology,
Vol. 18 Iss 1 pp. 8-21 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02683940310459565
Jui-Chen Chen, Colin Silverthorne, (2008),"The impact of locus of control on job stress, job performance and job
satisfaction in Taiwan", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 29 Iss 7 pp. 572-582 http://
dx.doi.org/10.1108/01437730810906326
Orly Michael, Deborah Court, Pnina Petal, (2009),"Job stress and organizational commitment among mentoring coordinators",
International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 23 Iss 3 pp. 266-288 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513540910941766

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Job Stressors and Their


Effects on Physical Health,
Emotional Health, and Job
Satisfaction in a University

Stress and
Health in
University Staff
59

Jagdish K. Dua

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University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia


Introduction
Despite a significant increase in research on stress[1], researchers and people
interested in stress are still not in agreement about the meaning and nature of
stress. Stress has been variously defined as a response to challenging events[2],
as an event that places demands on the individual[3], as an environmental
characterisitic which poses a threat to the individual[4], and as a realization by
the individual that he/she is unable to deal adequately with the demands placed
upon him/her[5,6]. The nature and effects of stress might be best understood by
saying that some environmental variables (stressors), when interpreted by the
individual (cognitive interpretation), may lead to stress. The stress experienced
by the individual may cause strains and long-term negative effects. Whether or
not the individual experiences stress and its effects depends, among other
things, on the individual characteristics such as social support, hardiness, type
A behaviours, and coping strategies[7,8]. Thus, stressors are objective events,
stress is the subjective experience of the event, and strain is the maladaptive
response to stress[9, p. 42].
One important part of our lives which causes a great deal of stress is our job
or our work. Work-related stress is of growing concern because it has significant
economic implications for the organizations through employee dissatisfaction,
lowered productivity and lowered emotional and physical health of the
employees[10]. It has been argued that organizational and extraorganizational
stressors lead to stress through cognitive appraisal which, in turn, leads to poor
emotional health, poor physical health, and behaviours which harm the
organizations[10,11]. Given the research findings that job stressors cause stress,
the terms stress and stressors will be used interchangeably in the present
article.
There is a fair degree of agreement on the variables that act as organizational
stressors. Cooper et al.[11-13] have identified intrinsic job factors (e.g. poor
working conditions and work overload), role in organizations (e.g. role conflict and
Research reported in this article was supported by an Australian Research Council Small Grant
to the author. I would like to thank Michael Forsyth for his assistance with data collection and
some data analysis. Thanks are also due to Edward Campbell for his assistance with data
analysis.

Journal of Educational
Administration Vol. 32 No. 1. 1994,
pp. 59-78. MCB University Press,
0957-8234

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60

role ambiguity), career development (e.g. lack of promotion policies and job
security), poor relationships at work, and organizational culture (e.g. politics in
organizations and lack of participation in decision-making) as organizational
stressors. Matteson and Ivancevich[10] have also identified similar job factors as
job stressors. Not only do various stimuli at work act as stressors, various things
that happen to people outside their work environment may also contribute to their
work stress. These extraorganizational stressors include factors such as family
problems, personal problems, and social problems. As mentioned above, jobrelated stressors and extraorganizational stressors cause stress which, in turn,
causes strains. The strains caused by stress are:
lower emotional health which is manifested as psychological distress,
depression and anxiety;
lower physical health which is manifested as heart disease, insomnia,
headaches, and infections;
organizational symptoms such as job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, lower
productivity, and poor work quality.
It is important to emphasize that stress causes suffering, reduction in work
quantity, and reduction in work quality.
In recent years researchers have investigated the role of stressors and the effects
of stressors in various organizations. Research reported in the present article was
designed to investigate the nature and effects of stress in a university setting. The
project was conducted at the University of New England. The aims of the research
were to determine:
The extent to which staff at the university experienced job-related
stressors.
If job-related stressors acted differentially as stressors in staff belonging to
subgroups in a variety of categories (e.g., did male and female staff, in the
sex category, experience different amounts or degrees of job-related
stress?). The categories investigated in this connection were sex, age,
campus (and faculty at the Armidale campus) to which the staff member
belonged, job-type (e.g., academic and administrative), permanent/
temporary, full-time/part-time, supervising/not-supervising, top-of-thescale/not-top-of-the-scale, ethnic background, qualifications, and disability.
The degree of self-reported extraorganizational or non-work stressors
experienced by staff at the university and to determine if staff belonging to
subgroups in different categories experienced differential non-work stress.
The relationship between job-stressors and non-work stressors, and
physical health, emotional health, and job satisfaction.
The role of individual characteristics, for example, social support, hardiness,
type A behaviours and coping strategies, in moderating the effects of stressors
was also investigated in the project. However, these results are not reported in
the present article.

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Method
Participants
The University of New England is a recently amalgamated higher educational
institution in New South Wales with campuses at Armidale, Lismore and
Orange, and a centre at Coffs Harbour. The amalgamation involved a university
in Armidale and colleges in Armidale, Lismore and Orange. All staff
(approximately 2,250) at the university were sent a covering letter, a personal
particulars form and a battery of questionnaires designed to determine the
degree to which staff experienced various job stressors, the general stressors
experienced by staff, and the physical and emotional health of staff. The
covering letter explained the nature of the project and requested staff to
complete the questionnaires. Staff were informed that they were not required to
write their name on any of the questionnaires and that participants would not
be identified in any presentation, discussion, and/or publication of the results of
the project. The questionnaires were completed by 1,028 staff members.
As happens in studies using questionnaires, not all respondents answered all
the questions. The total number of staff in each subgroup of each category who
provided the relevant personal information is presented in the section, Stress
Differences among Respondents in Different Categories (pp. 67-72). As can be
seen, staff provided information about their gender or sex (male and female),
age (under-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, and over-60 years), campus and the
faculty at the Armidale campus to which they belonged (Faculty of Arts at the
Armidale campus or Armidale-Arts; Faculty of the Sciences at the Armidale
campus or Armidale-Sciences; Faculty of Economics, Business and Law at the
Armidale campus or Armidale-Economics; Faculty of Education, Nursing, and
Professional Studies at the Armidale campus or Armidale-Education; staff who
did not belong to a faculty on the Armidale campus but worked at the Armidale
campus or non-faculty-Armidale; Lismore campus; Orange campus), job-type
(senior lecturer or above, below senior lecturer, research, senior technical officer
or above, below senior technical officer, administrative officer grade 4 or above,
administrative officer grade 2-4, below administrative officer grade 2, library,
and support), ethnic background (white Australian, Asian, African, other nonEnglish, other English, and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander), and
qualifications (trade; below school leaving certificate or below-SLC; Higher
School Certificate or HSC; graduate; postgraduate). Staff also indicated if they
worked on a permanent or temporary basis, if they worked full-time or parttime, if they supervised the work of other staff (supervising or not supervising),
if they were on top of the salary scale in their job (top-of-the-salary or not top-ofthe-salary), and if they had any disability (disabled or non-disabled). As an
example, it can be seen that of the 1,028 respondents, 992 answered the question
on sex. Of these 551 were males and 441 were females.
Measures
Personal particulars. Staff were asked to complete a personal particulars form.
This form inquired about participants sex, age, etc. (see Participants).

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62

Job stressors. Based on organizational stressors identified by researchers[1013] a job stressors questionnaire was constructed by the author (Table I). The
questionnaire contained 21 statements about job satisfaction and significance,
job clarity, job feedback, working conditions, workload, job security, promotion
opportunities, politics and culture at the university, interpersonal relations at
work, and university reorganization. Two questions on university
Given below are a number of statements which characterize a variety of jobs. Indicate the
extent to which each statement applies to your job by circling one of the answers given
opposite each statement.
Not at all Somewhat Completely
true
true
true

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1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.

Table I.
Job Stressors
Questionnaire

20.
21.

I am satisfied with my job


I have freedom to carry out the job the way I want to
I get regular feedback on how well I am doing the job
My job is a significant or important one
My workplace conditions (e.g. space, light, and noise)
are satisfactory
I am quite clear about what I am required to do on the job
I am overworked
I am expected to do too much in too little time
I have a secure job
There are not enough promotion opportunities in the job
I have achieved or I will achieve the level or position I had
hoped to achieve
Politics rather than performance determine who gets
promoted or who gets ahead in my unit/department
I have little chance or scope for contributing to decision
making in my unit/department
The head of my unit/department or my supervisor is
unreasonable in her/his attitudes towards me
People who work under me or with me are unreasonable
in their attitude toward me
I am unhappy with the way other people treat me on
the job
I get along well with my co-workers
I have all the necessary equipment and/or infrastructure
support at work
I am not clear how the recent reorganization in the
university will affect me
I am a failure at my job
Recent events in the university e.g. amalgamation
have led to too many changes in too short a time

1
1
1
1
1

2
2
2
2
2

3
3
3
3
3

1
1
1
1
1
1

2
2
2
2
2
2

3
3
3
3
3
3

1
1

2
2

3
3

1
1

2
2

3
3

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reorganization were included because the three campuses of the university had
amalgamated approximately four years previously and various parts of the
university were still debating the pros and cons of amalgamation at the time of
the project. Some of the questions in the job stressors questionnaire were
positive (e.g. I have a secure job) whereas others were negative (e.g. I have little
chance or scope for contributing to decision making in my unit/department).
Participants answered each question on a three-point scale (1, Not at all true; 2,
Somewhat true; 3, Completely true). In scoring the questionnaire, first the
positive items were reverse scored. After reverse scoring the positive items, low
score on each item indicated low stress and high score indicated high stress.
Average score, for the 21 items, indicated the degree to which the 21 items,
taken as a whole, acted as stressors. In scoring, first the average score was
calculated for each subject (job stress) and then this score was recoded as low
job stress (indicated by the average score of 1.00 to 1.50), medium job stress
(1.51 to 2.00), or high job stress (2.01 to 3.00).
General stressors. General stressors experienced by staff were assessed
through the six general stress questions in Nowacks stress assessment
profile[8]. Participants were asked to indicate the hassles experienced by them
in relation to their health, work, finances, family, social relations, and
environment in the last three months. Participants indicated the degree of
hassles on a 5-point scale (1, Never; 2, Rarely; 3, Sometimes; 4, Often; 5, Always).
The average score for the six items indicated the general stressors faced by the
subjects. In scoring, first the average score on the six items was calculated for
each subject (general stress). The average score was then recoded into low
(meaning an average score of 1.00 to 2.50), medium (2.51 to 3.50), or high (3.51 to
5.00) general stress category.
Emotional health. Emotional health of the participants was assessed through
the psychological distress scale[8,14], manifest anxiety scale[15], and thoughtrelated distress subscale of the thoughts and real-life experiences scale[16,17].
Participants completed all the scales for the past three months.
Nowacks psychological distress scale consists of 57 items indicative of
psychological distress (e.g. pains in the chest, hot or cold spells, nausea, upset
stomach, and trouble concentrating or paying attention). The present project
used 55 of the 57 items. Participants were asked to indicate the frequency with
which they experienced each symptom on a five-point scale (1, never to 5,
always). Psychological distress was the sum of the scores for the 55 items.
Manifest anxiety was assessed through the manifest anxiety scale developed
by Taylor[15]. The scale, consisting of 50 items, has been frequently used for the
assessment of anxiety. For each item the respondent indicated if the item was
true or false as applied to them. Some items were positive (e.g. I do not tire
quickly) while others were negative (e.g. I have nightmares every few nights).
Each item was scored as 0 (indicating no anxiety) or 1 (indicating anxiety). The
average score on the 50 items provided the manifest anxiety score.
Dua[16] argued that the emotional wellbeing of the individual was best
predicted through negative and positive effect caused to the individual as a

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64

result of his/her thoughts and day-to-day experiences. Dua constructed a scale


which measured the degree to which peoples thoughts and day-to-day
experiences caused them negative and positive effect. Research showed that
though both the negative and positive effect predicted psychological
wellbeing[17], negative effect caused by thoughts was the best predictor of
psychological well-being[18]. In the present project negative effect caused by
thoughts, assessed through the thought-related negative effect subscale of the
thoughts and real-life experiences scale developed by Dua, was used as an
indicator of emotional health. In completing the subscale, subjects indicated the
degree, on a 0-100 rating scale, to which their thoughts about each of the 14
items (e.g. family members, friends, colleagues at work and work in general)
caused them negative effect. Negative effect was the average rating of distress
caused by thoughts related to the 14 items.
Physical health. Participants completed a questionnaire, devised by the
author, designed to measure various aspects of self-reported physical health.
All the questions in this questionnaire were answered for the past three months.
Participants indicated the number of days they were absent from work due to a
medical problem (absence from work):
(1) no days;
(2) one or two days;
(3) three or four days;
(4) five to ten days;
(5) more than ten days.
Subjects also indicated the number of times they visited a doctor for
professional medical advice (doctor visits; one, none to five, more than ten
times), and the number of times they suffered from various illnesses:
(1) never;
(2) once;
(3) twice;
(4) three times;
(5) four or more times.
The illness question was adapted from Greenberg[cited in 7] and illness score
was the average of participants self-reported illness in the seven categories
(injuries/accidents, infections, respiratory illness, gastrointestinal illness,
headaches or migraines, cardiovascular illness, and other illness). Participants
also indicated their overall physical health (physical health: very bad; bad;
neither bad nor good; good; very good).
Procedure
Approval for the project was obtained from the Ethics Committees at the three
campuses of the University of New England. Following the approval, the project

was advertised in the staff newspapers published on the three campuses. In


May 1992 all staff employed by the university were sent a covering letter, a
personal particulars form and the battery of questionnaires designed to assess
job stressors, general stressors, physical health, and emotional health (see
Participants and Measures). Reminders, requesting all staff to send the
completed questionnaires back to the author, were published in staff
newspapers on the three campuses. The completed questionnaires received
within approximately four months were included in data analysis.

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Results
Data analysis was carried out using the SPSS package[19] on the mainframe
computer at the University of New England-Armidale.
Scoring
Job stress, job stress category (low, medium, or high), general stress, general
stress category (low, medium, or high), psychological distress, manifest anxiety,
negative effect, absence from work, doctor visits, illness, and physical health
scores were calculated for each respondent as detailed in the Measures
subsection above. The answer to the question on work hassles in the general
stress questions was used as another measure of work stress. The average
response to the remaining five hassles questions was also calculated. This was
used as the measure of extraorganizational stress or non-work stress. Non-work
stress scores were divided into low, medium, and high categories in the same
way as the scores for the general stress. Mean and standard deviations for all
scores are given in Table II.
Job Stressors
The number of job characteristics which acted as job stressors was calculated
for each respondent. A job characteristic included in a job stressor question was
counted as a job stressor if a respondent gave the answer 2 or 3 to the question.
For example, if a respondent gave an answer 2 (somewhat true) or 3 (completely
true) to the question I am overworked, being overworked was counted as a job
stressor. Results indicated that 82 per cent of the respondents experienced more
than seven job stressors, 51 per cent of the respondents experienced more than
11 job stressors, 23 per cent of the respondents experienced more than 14 job
stressors, and 6 per cent of the respondents experienced more than 17 job
stressors.
Inter-correlations among Stress Scores
Many researchers (e.g.[10]) have suggested that dissatisfaction with a job is a
consequence, or manifestation of, stress. In the job stressors questionnaire used
in the present project I included two questions about job satisfaction. Of these,
question 1 directly asked respondents about their job satisfaction. The
correlations between job stress based on 21 questions and job stress excluding
question 1 was found to be 0.997, and the correlation between job stress based

Stress and
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Variable Overall
Mean
SD

66

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Mean
SD

Mean
SD
Table II.
Mean and Standard
Deviations of Stress,
Health, and Job
Dissatisfaction
Variables

Mean
SD

1.73
0.28

Factor 1

Factor 2

1.81
0.45

2.04
0.74

General
stress
2.65
0.62

Psychological
distress
116.20
26.63

Absence
from work
1.60
0.97

Work
stress
3.29
1.05

Job stress
Factor 3
Factor 4
1.99
0.53

1.30
0.39
Non-work
stress
2.52
0.65

Emotional health
Negative
effect
23.80
16.41
Physical health
Doctor
Physical
visits
health
1.57
2.08
0.78
0.86

Factor 5

Factor 6

1.72
0.48

2.06
0.58

Job
dissatisfaction
1.76
0.59

Manifest
anxiety
0.31
0.19

Illness
1.44
0.44

on 21 questions and job stress excluding questions 1 and 20 was found to be


0.994. Given such high correlations it was decided that scores based on all 21
questions, and the six factors derived from the factor analysis of the 21
questions, would be used in data analysis. Intercorrelations of job stress with
other stress variables showed that job stress was correlated 0.26 (p < 0.001) with
non-work stress, 0.40 (p < 0.001) with general stress, and 0.59 (p < 0.001) with
work stress. It is interesting to note that job stress as determined through 21
questions in the job stressors questionnaire had a high and significant
correlation with work stress as determined through the question on workrelated hassles in the general stressors questions.
Factor Analysis of Job Stressors Questionnaire
Participants responses to the 21-item job stressors questionnaire were
subjected to a varimax rotation factor analysis. The factor analysis revealed six
factors, with an eigen value greater than 1, which accounted for 54 per cent of
the variance. Using a factor loading greater than or equal to 0.50 the six factors
were questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 (factor 1; accounting for 19.7 per cent of the
variance), questions 7 and 8 (factor 2; 10.5 per cent of the variance), questions
10, 11, 12 and 13 (factor 3; 7.2 per cent of the variance), questions 15, 16 and 17
(factor 4; 6.5 per cent of the variance), questions 5, 9 and 18 (factor 5; 5.3 per cent
of the variance), and questions 19 and 21 (factor 6; 4.8 per cent of the variance).
Questions 6, 14 and 20 (see Table I) were not significantly loaded on any of the

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factors. The six factors were named job significance (factor 1), workload (factor
2), work politics (factor 3), interpersonal dealings at work (factor 4), work
conditions (factor 5), and university reorganization (factor 6). Average job stress
factor scores (job stress factor 1 to job stress factor 6) and the category to which
these scores belonged (low, medium, or high) were determined, for each
respondent, in the same way as the calculation of the job stress scores and
determination of the job category.

Stress and
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67

Stress Differences among Respondents in Different Categories


Levels of job stress, job stress factors, and non-work stress were investigated in
respondents belonging to different categories, for example, age, sex, and
campus. These stress measures were selected because job stress was an overall
measure of stress, job stress factors indicated the stress caused by different
aspects of the workplace, and non-work stress was a measure of stress due to
extraorganizational factors. Tables III, IV and V show the percentage of staff in
each subgroup of each category who reported low, medium, and high job stress.
Stress levels among respondents in different categories were analysed through
one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). In ANOVAs stress scores served as
dependent variables and subgroups for each category served as independent
variables. Results of ANOVAs are reported so as to provide an overview of any
differences in experienced stressors by staff belonging to various subgroups
(e.g. male and female staff, and temporary and permanent staff).
Job stress and job stress factors. Mean and standard deviations of job stress
scores for various subgroups are shown in Tables VI, VII, and VIII. Though
ANOVAs were also applied to the six job stress factor scores of staff belonging
to various subgroups, the mean job stress factor scores are not tabulated since
such a tabulation would have required a large number of tables.

Sex
Subgroup

Male

Female

Low
Medium
High
Total number

21.6
62.4
16.0
551

25.2
60.3
14.5
441

NotSupervising supervising
Low
Medium
High
Total number

23.4
62.2
14.4
492

23.0
60.5
16.5
522

Permanent Temporary
24.0
61.5
14.5
865
Top of
salary
24.8
61.4
13.8
420

17.9
60.7
21.4
145
Not top
of salary
21.8
61.5
16.8
597

Full-time
22.8
61.0
16.2
907
Disabled
23.0
60.7
16.4
61

Part-time
27.4
62.3
10.4
106
Not
disabled
23.2
61.5
15.3
955

Table III.
Percentages of Staff
with Low, Medium and
High Job Stress
According to Sex, Job
Tenure, Status,
Enrolment and
Disability

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Subgroup
Low
Medium
High
Total number

Under-20
66.7
33.3
0
6

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Non-facultyArmidale
Low
Medium
High
Total number

Age (years)
31-40

21-30
23.9
63.2
12.9
155

18.0
64.0
18.0
311

ArmidaleArts

22.7
59.2
18.1
304

Campus
ArmidaleSciences

20.2
64.3
15.5
129

Table IV.
Percentages of Staff
with Low, Medium and
High Job Stress
According to Age,
Campus, and
Qualifications

Low
26.3
Medium
58.8
High
15.0
Total number 160

51-60

24.9
59.1
16.0
369

Over-60

24.8
60.9
14.3
161
ArmidaleEconomics

27.7
60.1
12.2
188

Campus
Lismore

41-50

36.4
59.1
4.5
22
ArmidaleEducation

30.4
57.1
12.5
56

12.8
67.9
19.3
109

Qualifications

Orange

Trade

BelowSLC

25.4
63.5
11.1
63

20.8
64.2
15.1
159

15.4
67.0
17.6
91

HSC

Graduate

28.8
59.3
11.9
118

19.1
62.8
18.0
183

Postgraduate
25.1
59.6
15.2
446

ANOVAs showed that males and females did not experience differential job
stress. Also, males and females did not experience differential stress due to job
significance, interpersonal dealings at work, work conditions, and university
reorganization. However, males reported higher workload stress than females
(mean job stress due to workload being 2.11 for males versus 1.96 for females),
and females reported more stress due to work politics than males (2.05 versus
1.94).
There was a significant effect of age on job stress and job stress factors 1, 2,
3, 5, and 6. In general younger staff reported more job stress than older staff.
ANOVAs of job stress factor scores showed that younger staff reported more
stress due to job significance than older staff (for example 1.86 for 31-40 age
group versus 1.74 for the over-50 age group); younger staff also reported more
stress as a result of work politics than older staff (for example, 2.12 for the
under-30 age group versus 1.89 for the over-50 age group) and they reported
more stress due to working conditions than older staff (for example 1.80 for 3140 age group versus 1.59 for the over-50 age group). On the other hand, older
staff reported more stress than younger staff as a result of workload (for

Job-type

Subgroup

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Low
Medium
High
Total number

Senior
lecturer
or above
28.9
62.6
8.4
190

Admin.
officer
4 or above
Low
Medium
High
Total number

27.8
59.3
13.0
54

White
Australian
Low
Medium
High
Total number

23.7
61.3
14.9
776

Below
senior
lecturer

Research

Senior technical
officer or
above

Below senior
technical
officer

30.8
59.0
10.3
39

19.0
65.1
15.9
63

20.3
57.8
21.9
64

Admin.
officer
2-4

Job-type
Below
admin.
officer 2

Library

Support

23.1
62.0
14.8
108

22.1
66.4
11.5
113

15.1
60.8
24.2
186

Asian
28.6
42.9
28.6
21

34.8
56.1
9.1
66

Ethnic background
OtherAfrican non-English
0
100.0
0
4

19.4
58.1
22.6
31

Stress and
Health in
University Staff
69

19.0
59.5
21.4
126

OtherEnglish Aboriginal
19.3
65.2
15.5
181

50.0
25.0
25.0
8

example, 2.17 for the over-50 age group versus 1.68 for the under-30 age group)
and university reorganization (for example, 2.13 for the over-50 age group
versus 1.94 for the under-30 age group).
There was a significant difference in job stress, and job stress factors 1, 2, 3
and 6 among staff from different campuses and faculties. Overall, ArmidaleEducation staff reported more stressors than other staff at Armidale and staff
on other campuses. Non-faculty-Armidale staff reported the next highest stress.
There was no significant difference in job stress experienced by staff on the
three campuses. In terms of job stress factors, non-faculty-Armidale staff
reported more stress due to job significance than other staff (for example, 1.88
for non-faculty-Armidale staff versus 1.72 for Armidale-Economics staff).
Armidale-Education staff, followed by Armidale-Arts staff and Lismore staff,
reported more workload stress than other staff (for example, 2.36 for ArmidaleEducation staff versus 1.93 for Armidale-Economics staff). Non-facultyArmidale staff, followed by the Armidale-Education staff, reported more work

Table V.
Percentage of Staff with
Low, Medium and High
Job Stress According to
Job Type and Ethnic
Background

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70

Table VI.
Mean and Standard
Deviations of Job Stress
According to Sex, Job
Tenure, Status,
Enrolment, and
Disability

politics stressors than other staff (for example, 2.08 for non-faculty-Armidale
staff versus 1.88 for Armidale-Arts staff). Armidale-Arts staff, followed by the
Armidale-Education staff, reported more stress as a result of university
reorganization than other staff (for example, 2.31 for Armidale-Arts staff versus
1.78 for Lismore staff).
Staff below senior lecturer level reported more job stress than other staff.
They were followed, in job stress levels, by support staff and staff below senior
technical officer level. Support staff reported more stress due to job significance
than most other staff (for example, 1.93 for support staff versus 1.62 for
research staff). Staff below senior lecturer level, staff below senior technical
officer level, and staff below administrative officer 2 level were next in line in

Subgroup

Male

Female

Permanent

Mean
SD

1.74
0.28

1.72
0.29

1.72
0.28

1.77
0.29

1.73
0.29

1.70
0.27

Top

Not top

Disabled

Notdisabled

1.72
0.28

1.74
0.29

1.75
0.28

1.73
0.28

Not
Supervising supervising
Mean
SD

Subgroup

1.72
0.28

21-30

Age (years)
31-40

41-50

51-60

Over-60

1.44
0.27

1.72
0.27

1.76
0.28

1.73
0.29

1.70
0.29

1.61
0.28

Non-facultyArmidale

ArmidaleArts

Campus
ArmidaleScience

ArmidaleEconomics

ArmidaleEducation

1.76
0.29

1.74
0.25

1.69
0.28

1.65
0.26

1.80
0.27

Campus
Table VII.
Means and Standard
Deviation of Job Stress
According to Campus,
Age, and Qualification

Mean
SD

Part-time

Under-20

Mean
SD

Mean
SD

1.74
0.29

Temporary Full-time

Qualifications

Lismore

Orange

Trade

1.72
0.31

1.69
0.27

1.74
0.27

Below-SLC
1.79
0.28

HSC
1.70
0.28

PostGraduate graduate
1.75
0.29

1.71
0.28

Senior lecturer
Subgroup
or above
Mean
SD

1.67
0.25

Below senior
lecturer

Research

1.80
0.30

1.65
0.25

Senior technical Below senior


officer or above technical officer
1.74
0.30

Admin. officer Admin. officer Below admin.


4 or above
2-4
officer 2

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Mean
SD

Mean
SD

1.70
0.26

1.71
0.29

White
Australian

Asian

1.72
0.28

1.74
0.36

1.73
0.27

1.77
0.33

1.77
0.28

71
Library

Support

1.65
0.29

1.80
0.31

Ethnic background
OtherAfrican
non-English
1.87
0.05

Stress and
Health in
University Staff

OtherEnglish

Aboriginal

1.75
0.27

1.70
0.42

terms of stress due to job significance. Staff above senior lecturer level reported
higher workload stress than all other staff (for example, 2.46 for staff above
senior lecturer versus 1.71 for staff below senior technical officer). Staff below
senior lecturer level, staff above administrative officer 4 level, and staff at
administrative officer 2-4 level were next in line in terms of workload stress.
Support staff, followed by staff below senior technical officer and staff below
administrative officer 2 level, reported more work politics stressors than other
staff (for example, 2.25 for support staff versus 1.66 for staff above senior
lecturer level). There was no significant difference in stress due to interpersonal
dealings at work among staff in different jobs at the university. Research staff,
followed by staff below senior lecturer level and staff below senior technical
officer, reported more work conditions stressors than other staff (for example,
2.08 for research staff versus 1.63 for staff below administrative officer 2 level).
Support staff, followed by staff below senior lecturer level, reported more stress
due to university reorganization than other staff (for example, 2.20 for support
staff versus 1.71 for library staff). Staff above senior technical officer level and
staff above senior lecturer level were next in line in terms of stress due to
university reorganization.
There was a trend for temporary staff to report more job stress than
permanent staff. As far as job stress factors were concerned, the only
meaningful difference was where temporary staff reported more stress due to
work conditions than permanent staff (2.07 for temporary staff versus 1.66 for
permanent staff). Full-time and part-time staff did not report significantly
different job stress levels. On job stress factors, the only significant difference
was in relation to workload, where full-time staff reported more workload

Table VIII.
Mean and Standard
Deviations of Job Stress
According to Job
Tenure and Ethnic
Background

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72

stressors than part-time staff (2.07 for full-time staff versus 1.81 for part-time
staff).
There was no significant difference in job stress between staff who
supervised the work of others and staff who did not. In relation to job stress
factors, non-supervising staff were more stressed due to the job significance
factor than supervising staff (1.85 versus 1.77), Supervising staff reported more
workload stress than non-supervising staff (2.27 versus 1.83), and nonsupervising staff reported more work politics stressors than supervising staff
(2.10 versus 1.87).
Job stress was not significantly different between staff who were on top-ofthe-scale in their job and those who were not on top-of-the-scale in their job. In
relation to job stress factors, there was a trend for staff who were not on top-ofscale to be more stressed due to the job significance factor than those who were
on top-of-the-scale (1.84 versus 1.78), and there was a trend for those who were
on top-of-the-scale to report more workload stress than those who were not on
top-of-the-scale (2.09 versus 2.01). Finally, staff who were not on top-of-the-scale
reported more work conditions stressors than those who were on top-of-thescale (1.77 versus 1.65). Ethnic background had no effect on job stress. In
relation to job stress factors there were not many clear-cut trends. One trend
that emerged was that staff from other English backgrounds reported more
workload stress than staff of some other backgrounds (2.17 for other English
staff versus 1.95 for Asian, African, and other non-English staff).
Qualifications did not have an effect on job stress. Staff with postgraduate
qualifications, followed by graduate staff, reported more workload stressors
than other staff (for example, 2.26 for postgraduate staff versus 1.68 for HSC
staff). Staff with trade qualifications, followed by those with below-SLC and
HSC qualifications, reported more work politics stressors than other staff (for
example, 2.16 for trade staff and below-SLC staff versus 1.84 for postgraduate
staff). Staff with below-SLC qualifications reported more stress due to
interpersonal dealings at work than other staff. However, these means were low,
that is, in the 1.27 to 1.46 range, graduate and postgraduate staff reported more
work conditions stressors than other staff (for example, 1.79 for graduate staff
versus 1.61 for below-SLC staff). Disability was not associated with job stress.
As far as the job stress factors were concerned, the only significant difference
was where disabled staff reported more work politics stressors than nondisabled staff (2.13 versus 1.98).
Extraorganizational stress. Non-work stress was the average rating of health
hassles, financial hassles, family hassles, social hassles, and environmental
hassles. ANOVA revealed that females reported more non-work stress than
males and younger respondents had more non-work stress than respondents
who were over 50 years old. In general, there was no significant difference in
relation to non-work stress among staff working on different campuses and
different faculties. Staff employed as senior lecturer or above reported less nonwork stress than staff in other jobs.

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There was no significant difference between permanent and temporary staff,


but part-time staff reported more non-work stress than full-time staff. Nonsupervising staff reported more non-work stress than supervising staff. Staff
who were on top of the salary scale in their job were no different from those who
were not on top of the salary scale in relation to non-work stress. In relation to
ethnic background, staff of aboriginal background reported more non-work
stress than all other staff. In general, staff who had postgraduate qualifications
reported less non-work stress than all other staff. Disabled staff reported more
non-work stress than non-disabled staff.

Stress and
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73

Stress, Health and Job Dissatisfaction


Table IX shows the intercorrelations between stress measures (job stress, job
stress factors 1 to 6, and non-work stress), and emotional health (psychological
distress, negative effect and manifest anxiety), physical health (absence from
work, doctor visits, physical health and illness), and job dissatisfaction
measures. To determine if correlations between job stress, and health and
dissatisfaction measures were mainly due to non-work stress, partial
correlations, controlling for non-work stress, were computed. These
correlations are also shown in Table IX. Correlations in Table IX showed that,
in general, high job stress and high non-work stress were associated with low
emotional health, low physical health, and high job dissatisfaction. The
relationship between job stress, and health and job dissatisfaction remained
significant even after controlling for non-work stress.
The relationship between stress, and health and job dissatisfaction was
further analysed through multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). In these
MANOVAs job stress and non-work stress categories served as the three levels
of the independent variable, and health and job dissatisfaction measures served

Job
Psychological
dissatisfaction
distress
Job stress
0.61***
Job stress
0.57***
(controlling for non-work stress)
Non-work stress
0.21***
Absence
from work
Job stress
0.12***
Job stress
0.08*
(controlling for non-work stress)
Non-work stress
0.14***
* p < 0 .05; ** p < 0 .01; *** p < 0 .001

Negative
affect

Manifest
anxiety

0.40***
0.28***

0.39***
0.30***

0.36***
0.24***

0.58***

0.54***

0.50***

Doctor
visits

Physical
health

Illness

0.11***
0.03

0.33***
0.24***

0.30***
0.18***

0.18***

0.41***

0.38***

Table IX.
Inter-correlations
between Job Stress and
Non-work Stress, and
Health and Job
Dissatisfaction
Measures

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74

as the correlated dependent variables. Results (see Table X) supported the


correlations in Table IX. These results revealed that both the job stress and nonwork stress were associated with high job dissatisfaction, more absence from
work, more doctor visits, more illness, low self-reported physical health, high
psychological distress, more negative effect, and more manifest anxiety.
Multivariate effect size for job stress was 0.19 and for non-work stress it was
0.17. Similar MANOVAs were performed for job stress factors. These
MANOVAs showed results similar to those found for job stress. Stress due to
job significance was associated with low emotional health, low physical health
and high job dissatisfaction. Stress due to workload and university
reorganization was not significantly associated with absence from work and
doctor visits, but it was associated with other health measures and job
dissatisfaction. Stress due to work politics and interpersonal dealings at work,
and work conditions was associated with all the measures of health and job
dissatisfaction except doctor visits. These results are supported by the
intercorrelations between job stress factors, and health and job dissatisfaction
measures, shown in Table XI.
Dependent variable
F

Table X.
Results of Univariate
F-tests Following
Multivariate Analysis
of Variance Showing
Effects of Job Stress
and Non-work Stress on
Health and Job
Dissatisfaction
Measures

Psychological distress
Negative effect
Manifest anxiety
Absence from work
Doctor visits
Physical health
Illness
Job dissatisfaction

Job stress
p less than

46.72
48.52
42.78
6.89
4.29
37.50
25.36
161.45

0.001
0.001
0.001
0.01
0.05
0.001
0.001
0.001

Psychological Negative Manifest


distress
effect
anxiety

Table XI.
Inter-correlations
between Job Stress
Factors and Health and
Job Dissatisfaction
Measures

Job
significance
Work load
Work politics
Inter-personal
Work conditions
University
reorganization

Non-work stress
p less than

144.43
108.57
120.76
13.74
6.50
53.90
46.59
14.27

Absence
from
Doctor Physical
work
visits
health

0.001
0.001
0.001
0.001
0.01
0.001
0.001
0.001

Illness

Job
dissatisfaction

0.33***
0.18***
0.22***
0.25***
0.20***

0.27***
0.17***
0.19***
0.26***
0.27***

0.30*** 0.10***
0.15*** 0.05
0.19*** 0.16***
0.25*** 0.07*
0.17*** 0.07*

0.07***
0.08*
0.09**
0.08*
0.07*

0.22***
0.16***
0.17***
0.20***
0.25***

0.22***
0.22***
0.15***
0.14***
0.21***

0.07***
0.12***
0.41***
0.19***
0.31***

0.20***

0.20***

0.21***

0.01

0.14***

0.10***

0.15***

* p < 0 .05; ** p < 0 .01; *** p < 0 .001

0.02

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Discussion
Job Stress and Job Stress Factors
Job stress was assessed through 21 job-related statements. Results showed that
82 per cent of the respondents experienced more than seven job stressors and 51
per cent of the respondents experienced more than 11 job stressors. Further
analysis of job stressors was carried out by calculating the percentage of
respondents who gave a high stressor rating to each job stressor question. This
analysis revealed that 41 per cent of the respondents reported that they did not
get regular feedback; 12 per cent of the respondents reported that their
workplace conditions were unsatisfactory; 34 per cent of the respondents
reported that they were overworked; 32 per cent of the respondents reported
that they were expected to do too much in too little time; 14 per cent of the
respondents reported that they did not have a secure job; 41 per cent of the
respondents reported that there were not enough promotion opportunities for
them; 35 per cent of the respondents reported that that they had not achieved
the position they had hoped to achieve; 25 per cent of the respondents reported
that politics determined who got ahead in their department; 19 per cent of the
respondents reported that that they had little scope for contributing to decision
making in their department; 21 per cent of the respondents reported that that
they did not have the necessary infrastructure or equipment at work; 28 per
cent of the respondents reported that that they were not sure how recent
reorganization would affect them; and 32 per cent of the respondents reported
that that events related to amalgamation had produced too many changes in too
short a time. These descriptive results and the results in Tables III, IV and V
indicated that many staff experienced a significant number of stressors and a
high degree of stress at their workplace.
Analysis of job stress and stress due to job stress factors in different
subgroups revealed that, in many cases, respondents belonging to different
subgroups experienced differential job stress and stress due to job stress
factors. It is worth remembering that job stress was the average score over 21
stressors whereas job stress factor scores were scores averaged over a smaller
number of questions. Thus, as one would expect, there were a number of
instances where the overall job stress in subgroups within a category was not
significant but there were significant differences in stress caused by job stress
factors. For example, there was no significant difference in job stress between
males and females, but males reported more workload stress than females, and
females reported more stress due to work politics than males.
Results showed that, in general, younger staff reported more job stress than
older staff. This may be because as people get older they become more
experienced and more worldly-wise[10]. In addition, older employees have often
reached a stage where career development is not their major concern, and hence
a number of job characteristics which may cause stress to younger staff, who
have their career ahead of them, do not cause stress to older staff.
The results of stress in staff across different campuses and across different
faculties of the Armidale campus were revealing. Generally, staff in the Faculty

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of Education, Nursing, and Professional Studies were more stressed than other
staff. They were followed, in the level of stress, by staff who did not belong to
any of the faculties in Armidale. The latter group comprised administrative
staff, support staff, and library staff. It is worth remembering that the
University of New England had undergone an amalgamation about four years
ago and many staff had felt the effects of amalgamation. The amalgamation
involved a college at Orange, a college at Lismore, a college at Armidale, and a
university at Armidale. It might be argued that amalgamation produced
maximum changes for staff who had previously belonged to the college at
Armidale before undergoing a complete amalgamation with the university at
Armidale. Staff at Lismore and Orange had also become part of the university,
but these campuses functioned as autonomous units. Most of the staff at the
previous college at Armidale belonged to the Faculty of Education, Nursing and
Professional Studies, and the greatest change due to amalgamation for these
staff may have been the cause of their stress.
Staff below senior lecturer level, followed by support staff and staff below
senior technical officer, reported more job stress than other staff. These results
suggested that staff in lower jobs were more stressed than staff in higher jobs.
It is important to point out that the personal factor categories were not
mutually exclusive. Thus, differences within one category may exist because of
the effect of another category. For example, differences within job-type category
may be due to age or vice versa. Stepwise multiple regressions in which
personal factor categories served as predictor variables for the prediction of job
stress and scores on job stress factors were applied to the data. One general
conclusion from these multiple regressions was that supervising/notsupervising and job-type factors were the two most common and significant
predictors of stress. In addition, within the job-type category, there was a trend
for staff employed at lower job levels (e.g. staff below senior lecturer level and
support staff) to be more stressed than staff employed at higher job levels (e.g.
staff above senior lecturer level). Thus, it seems that many significant
associations between personal factors and stress (for example, the correlation
between age and stress) could be explained through the supervising/notsupervising and job-type factors.
Researchers have presented evidence to show that general stress and workrelated stress lead to poor physical health, poor emotional or mental health,
absenteeism, low morale, and job dissatisfaction[e.g. 10,13]. Poor physical
health consequences have been observed in relation to cardiovascular disease,
infections, cancer, headaches, and gastrointestinal diseases. However, there is a
significant amount of evidence to suggest that the stress-illness relationship
may be explained through the personality dimension of negative affectivity,
that is, people who show negative affectivity are more likely to be ill[20]. In
relation to emotional health, researchers have found increased depression and
anxiety, and lower psychological wellbeing as a result of both the general stress
and work-related stress. The results of the present study supported previous
research. The present study found that both the high job stress and high non-

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work stress were associated with more job dissatisfaction, psychological


distress, negative effect, manifest anxiety, absence from work due to illness,
doctor visits and illness, and worse physical health.
I must emphasize that the results of the present study are correlational in
nature and do not indicate any cause and effect relationship between personal
factors and stressors, and stressors and health variables. Establishment of the
cause and effect relationships would require longitudinal studies. However, an
increasing amount of research in this area has shown that organizational or
work-related factors act as stressors, that employees in different categories
experience different stressors in the same work environment, and that stress is
associated with poor physical health, poor emotional or psychological health,
and high job dissatisfaction. The present research identifies stressors and
supports the previously observed relationship, between stress and health, in a
higher-educational setting.
The research reported in the article identifies many higher-educational job
characteristics which acted as stressors for staff employed at the University of
New England. The research also found that staff belonging to different
subgroups experienced different stressors. I believe that many job
characteristics identified as stressors at the University of New England would
also be found to act as stressors in other higher education institutions in
Australia, and perhaps, other countries. University authorities should be
encouraged to determine the stressors for different subgroups of staff in their
university and then take action to remove the sources of stress from the work
environment. In the medium to long term such action would produce benefits
for the institution in terms of improved physical and emotional health,
increased job satisfaction, and improved morale of the employees. These
benefits would be followed by increased productivity in terms of quality and
quantity of work.
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