open access

Vol 63, No 4 (2012)
REVIEW ARTICLES
Published online: 2013-02-01
Submitted: 2013-02-18
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Psychological stress in seafarers: a review

Anna Carotenuto, Ivana Molino, Angiola Maria Fasanaro, Francesco Amenta
International Maritime Health 2012;63(4):188-194.

open access

Vol 63, No 4 (2012)
REVIEW ARTICLES
Published online: 2013-02-01
Submitted: 2013-02-18

Abstract

Background: Seafaring is a particular profession, in which workers are usually exposed to several stressors that are related to the different duties on board ships. This paper has reviewed the main publications on different factors affecting seafarers with the purpose of identifying specific stress factors related to a particular duty on board.
Materials and methods: A literature search was conducted using the online databases PubMed and OvidSP. A survey on health, stress, and fatigue of Australian Seafarers published by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) fulfilling the selection criteria was also examined. This publication provided relevant data obtained from a large sample of seafarers.
Results: Our analysis confirmed that seafaring is associated with mental, psychosocial, and physical stressors. The most important factors were separation from family, loneliness on board, fatigue, multi-nationality, limited recreation activity, and sleep deprivation. The AMSA report gave a more detailed analysis on lifestyle and relevant factors inducing psychological distress. Stressors affecting seafarers working in the engine room were different from those involving the deck crew. Sleep quality and duration were reported to be poor mainly in pilots, whereas deck crew tended to be less adherent to physical exercise and healthy lifestyle recommendations.
Conclusions: Seafaring is still associated with relevant mental health risks. Information on known stress factors on board should be provided to seafarers to help them in lowering stress perception. Strategies for coping with “inevitable” stress conditions should also be investigated and developed. Strategies to decrease risks of stress should be directed to the different categories of seafarers, and the results of specific interventions should be evaluated.

Abstract

Background: Seafaring is a particular profession, in which workers are usually exposed to several stressors that are related to the different duties on board ships. This paper has reviewed the main publications on different factors affecting seafarers with the purpose of identifying specific stress factors related to a particular duty on board.
Materials and methods: A literature search was conducted using the online databases PubMed and OvidSP. A survey on health, stress, and fatigue of Australian Seafarers published by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) fulfilling the selection criteria was also examined. This publication provided relevant data obtained from a large sample of seafarers.
Results: Our analysis confirmed that seafaring is associated with mental, psychosocial, and physical stressors. The most important factors were separation from family, loneliness on board, fatigue, multi-nationality, limited recreation activity, and sleep deprivation. The AMSA report gave a more detailed analysis on lifestyle and relevant factors inducing psychological distress. Stressors affecting seafarers working in the engine room were different from those involving the deck crew. Sleep quality and duration were reported to be poor mainly in pilots, whereas deck crew tended to be less adherent to physical exercise and healthy lifestyle recommendations.
Conclusions: Seafaring is still associated with relevant mental health risks. Information on known stress factors on board should be provided to seafarers to help them in lowering stress perception. Strategies for coping with “inevitable” stress conditions should also be investigated and developed. Strategies to decrease risks of stress should be directed to the different categories of seafarers, and the results of specific interventions should be evaluated.
Get Citation

Keywords

seafarers; work-related stress at sea; psychological stress; fatigue

About this article
Title

Psychological stress in seafarers: a review

Journal

International Maritime Health

Issue

Vol 63, No 4 (2012)

Pages

188-194

Published online

2013-02-01

Bibliographic record

International Maritime Health 2012;63(4):188-194.

Keywords

seafarers
work-related stress at sea
psychological stress
fatigue

Authors

Anna Carotenuto
Ivana Molino
Angiola Maria Fasanaro
Francesco Amenta

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