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CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Stress has been defined in different ways over the years. Originally, it was conceived of as
pressure from the environment, then as strain within the person. (Michie, 2002). According to
Mojoyinola (2008), Stress is derived from the word “stringi”, which means “to be drawn tight”.
Stress can be defined as a physical or psychological stimulus that can produce mental tension or
physiological reactions that may lead to illness. According to Sauter (1999), Occupational stress
is defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirement of the
job do not match the capabilities, resources or need of the worker. Thus, stress is more likely in
some situations than others and in some individuals than others. Stress can undermine the
achievement of goals, both for individuals and for organizations. (Michie, 2002).
In Canada, 30.8% of employees confirm that most of their working days are considerably
or extremely stressful (Biron, Cooper, & Bond, 2008). More than 10% of total claims for
occupational diseases are attributed to stress at work (Williamson, 1994). There are a variety of
stress factors in the workplace of healthcare workers that have been shown to increase the risk of
distress and burnout such as increasing workload, emotional response to contact with suffering
and dying patients, and organizational problems and conflicts (McNeely, 2005). In addition, many
studies have shown that levels of dissatisfaction, distress and burnout at work are quite high in
healthcare workers (Raiger 2005; Deckard 1994; Ramirez 1996).
Stress in the workplace is associated with a number of health problems in employees
(Vézina, Bourbonnais, Brisson & Trudel, 2004). It is also linked to low job satisfaction, reduced
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productivity (Cotton & Hart, 2003) and an increase in occupational accidents (Clarke & Cooper,
2004). These negative consequences for employees affect the success of organisations and their
competitive edge in the marketplace. Even if the employer cannot protect employees from the
sources of stress arising in their private lives and personal problems, he can protect them from
sources of stress emerging in the workplace (Leka, Griffiths & Cox, 2003).
Most interventions to reduce the risk to health associated with stress in the workplace
involve both individual and organizational approaches. Individual approaches include training and
one-to-one psychology services—clinical, occupational, health or counseling. Organizational
interventions can be of many types, ranging from structural (for example, staffing levels, work
schedules, physical environment) to psychological (for example, social support, control over work,
participation). (Michie, 2002). Organizational strategies to prevent occupational stress are quite
simple; they involve the creation of a suitable working environment in terms of employment
characteristics, labor relations, organizational structure and achievement of a healthy
organizational culture. (Stoica, 2010)
Stress is acknowledged to be one of the main causes of absence from work (Mead, 2000).
In Australia, most states report an increasing number of annual workers’ compensation claims
resulting from workplace stress (Caulfield, Chang, Dollard, & Elshaug, 2004).
With regards to occupational stress management, the findings revealed that majority of the
nurses in Central Hospital, Benin City sometimes went on break, carryout exercises, and relaxes
in order to manage stress.
Stress and stressors are inevitable in the work place, especially in the hospital setting.
Therefore, effective occupational stress management among health care workers is geared towards
reducing and controlling health care workers’ occupational stress and improving coping skills at
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work. It is towards this that this study focuses on finding out how health worker manage
occupational related stress.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Work stress is thought to affect individuals’ psychological and physical health, as well as
organization’s effectiveness; in an adverse manner (Leka, 2000).
Health care workers have a habit of putting the needs of their patients ahead of their own.
The community regards health care workers as though, able to cope in all situations, resilient,
always caring, loyal to their patient, dedicated, committed, the lists go on. These expectations are
put on health care workers by the society, managers, organizations and sometimes themselves
(Brunero, 2006).
Since stress is inevitable in health care workers work environment, it is imperative for
health care workers to have a good knowledge and understanding of stress and its management.
Therefore, this research seeks to study health care workers’ knowledge and perception of stress
management.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This study seeks to answer the following research questions:
1. What are the types of occupational stress experienced by health care workers?
2. What is the perception of health care workers about work-related stress and stress
management?
3. What are the common work-related stressors experienced by health care workers.
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4. What are the coping mechanisms adopted by health care workers in the management of
work-related stress?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
1. To determine the type of occupational stress experienced by health care workers.
2. To assess perception of health care workers about work-related stress and stress
management.
3. To determine the common work-related stressors experienced by health care workers.
4. To determine the coping mechanisms adopted by health care workers in the
management of work-related stress.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will be of great significance to both health care workers and patients in
that it highlights how stress perception and coping mechanism differ among health care
workers by exploring health care workers’ perception of work stress and their coping
mechanism, thus arriving at a participative approach to manage the problem.
Moreover, this study will improve the standard of health care system because issues
of work absenteeism will reduce if appropriate stress management is in place. Health policy
maker and policy making will need to move in time from treatment to prevention which
includes choosing those that are able to cope with stress levels for positions during
recruitment and selection.
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1.6 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The research findings were only generalized to OAUTHC, Ile-Ife and Ilesha units. Also,
the result relies on the response of the respondents which may be subjected to personal
biases. In addition, the study did not involve all the health care workers in the selected
health care settings.
1.7 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study was delimited to selected health care settings in Ile-Ife/Ilesha.
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERM
Knowledge: Sum of all the information about stress and stress management available to
health care workers.
Stress: It is the pressure or tension exerted on health care workers.
Perception: The opinion, view and disposition of health care workers to stress in the work
place and its management.
Stress management: It is the measures and strategies taken by individual health care
workers and the organization (hospital) in dealing with stress.
Health care workers: Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacist, Physiotherapist, Laboratory Scientist,
Health Information Officer, Nutritionist Working in OAUTHC Ile-Ife/Ilesa

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