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Title: Work-related strain in the naval service
Author: Slaven, Georgina
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 014X
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2002
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Study 1 comprised a cross-sectional questionnaire survey designed to identify workrelated stressors and the prevalence of perceived strain amongst a randomly selected and representative sample of naval service personnel. Key identified stressors were: work/family conflict, role conflict, poor physical work environment, lack of resources and lack of autonomy and control. The latter factor had a direct effect on strain, contrary to Karasek's demands/control model. The impact of identified stressors was moderated by supervisor and peer support, but not by spouse support. Significant differences in indices of strain were observed. The overall GHQ 'case' rate was significantly higher than the general population, whilst significantly higher rates were reported by females compared to males. Significantly lower rates were reported by officers compared to ratings, and by those aged 25 and older compared to those under 25 years. RN female ratings, aged under 25 years, serving on ships reported the highest GHQ 'case' rates. This finding prompted Study 2 to examine in greater detail the factors contributing to work-related strain for those serving on ships, particularly for young naval ratings. Two warships were nominated to participate in a longitudinal study during a six month operational deployment. The study monitored the physical and psychological well-being of 124 volunteers during the deployment, including the contribution of personality and coping styles using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Volunteers' use and opinions of support services were also sought, as the naval service provides a comprehensive support framework to assist personnel with professional, family, legal and financial difficulties. The findings reinforced those from Study 1, in that similar work-related stressors were identified as contributing to increased strain. Control at work did not influence the work demands/strain relationship, though this may partly be due to the confounding effect of gender, as females reported significantly lower control than males, and partly to the small sample size (93 compared to 1,170 for Study 1). Significant main effects for supervisor support were found, whether neuroticism was controlled for or not. Both work/family conflict and role conflict were significantly related to perceived strain, depending on whether neuroticism was controlled for, though lack of resources was not a significant factor. Work/family conflict was also related to poorer organisational commitment. The significance of work/family conflict as both related to greater strain and lower organisational commitment is a key finding for the executive in developing policy and manpower projection forecasts. Significant relationships were observed between neuroticism and strain at all three measurement points during the deployment, but possible gender bias in the measurement tool cannot be discounted. A modest relationship was observed between the coping style 'avoidance' with both neuroticism and strain, suggesting this may not be an appropriate coping style for the demands of service life at sea. Study 1 found that the various support services provided by the organisation did not ameliorate the effects of strain in the workplace. The views expressed by participants in Study 2 reveal a range of attitudes, some negative, including a lack of knowledge about the services provided. This highlights the need for greater publicity about the support services available. Negative gender stereotypes also appear to persist within the divisional system, creating a barrier to effective divisional care.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Occ.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available