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

Date01 March 1994
Published date01 March 1994
AuthorJagdish K. Dua
Subject MatterEducation
Stress and
Health in
University Staff
Job Stressors and Their
Effects on Physical Health,
Emotional Health, and Job
Satisfaction in a University
Jagdish K. Dua
University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia
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
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
Journal of Educational
Administration Vol. 32 No. 1. 1994,
pp. 59-78. © MCBUniversity Press,
Research reported in this article was suppor ted by an Australian Research Council Small Gr ant
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
Journal of
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, job-
related 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 poo r 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
If job-related stressors acted differentially as stresso rs 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-the-
scale/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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