open access

Vol 62, No 3 (2010)
MARITIME PSYCHOLOGY Original article
Published online: 2010-12-06
Submitted: 2013-02-18
Get Citation

An Ocean of Stress? The relationship between psychosocial workload and mental strain among engine officers in the Swedish merchant fleet

Leif W. Rydstedt, Monica Lundh
International Maritime Health 2010;62(3):168-175.

open access

Vol 62, No 3 (2010)
MARITIME PSYCHOLOGY Original article
Published online: 2010-12-06
Submitted: 2013-02-18

Abstract


Objectives. The first purpose of this study was to compare the psychosocial working conditions and mental health of our sample of maritime engine officers with a sample of British shorebased professional engineers. The second purpose was to analyse the relationship between the psychosocial working conditions onboard and mental strain for the Swedish maritime engine officers.
Material and methods. There were a total of 731 engine officers in the Swedish merchant fleet, almost all males with higher education. The British comparison sample consisted of 312 professional shore-based engineers. A questionnaire was distributed to the Swedish engine officers with a modified version of the JCQ for the DC-S model, the Role conflict and Ambiguity scale, and two items on family-work inter-role conflicts (WFI/FWI), as workload indicators. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS10) were used as strain indicators.
Results. There were no significant differences in perceived job stain or in WFI/FWI between the Swedish engine officers and the British professional engineers in perceived job strain. While the British shore-based engineers reported significantly higher role ambiguity the Swedish engine officers perceived a significantly higher degree of role conflict and higher perceived stress. Hierarchic linear regression analysis showed that the Role Stress was strongly related to perceived stress (R2 = 0.319) as well as to mental health (R2 = 0.222). When introduced in the second step the DC-S model was significantly related to the outcome measures, as was WFI/FWI when finally introduced.
Conclusions. The main source of the high degree of perceived stress among the engine officers does not seem to be the job content but may rather be understood from an interactional perspective, where conflicting requirements are directed towards the individual officer. It can be assumed that the fast technological and organizational changes and the increased pressure for economic profitability that characterize the shipping industry have attenuated these role conflicts.

Abstract


Objectives. The first purpose of this study was to compare the psychosocial working conditions and mental health of our sample of maritime engine officers with a sample of British shorebased professional engineers. The second purpose was to analyse the relationship between the psychosocial working conditions onboard and mental strain for the Swedish maritime engine officers.
Material and methods. There were a total of 731 engine officers in the Swedish merchant fleet, almost all males with higher education. The British comparison sample consisted of 312 professional shore-based engineers. A questionnaire was distributed to the Swedish engine officers with a modified version of the JCQ for the DC-S model, the Role conflict and Ambiguity scale, and two items on family-work inter-role conflicts (WFI/FWI), as workload indicators. The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS10) were used as strain indicators.
Results. There were no significant differences in perceived job stain or in WFI/FWI between the Swedish engine officers and the British professional engineers in perceived job strain. While the British shore-based engineers reported significantly higher role ambiguity the Swedish engine officers perceived a significantly higher degree of role conflict and higher perceived stress. Hierarchic linear regression analysis showed that the Role Stress was strongly related to perceived stress (R2 = 0.319) as well as to mental health (R2 = 0.222). When introduced in the second step the DC-S model was significantly related to the outcome measures, as was WFI/FWI when finally introduced.
Conclusions. The main source of the high degree of perceived stress among the engine officers does not seem to be the job content but may rather be understood from an interactional perspective, where conflicting requirements are directed towards the individual officer. It can be assumed that the fast technological and organizational changes and the increased pressure for economic profitability that characterize the shipping industry have attenuated these role conflicts.
Get Citation

Keywords

engine officers; role conflict; job content; stress; work-family conflict

About this article
Title

An Ocean of Stress? The relationship between psychosocial workload and mental strain among engine officers in the Swedish merchant fleet

Journal

International Maritime Health

Issue

Vol 62, No 3 (2010)

Pages

168-175

Published online

2010-12-06

Bibliographic record

International Maritime Health 2010;62(3):168-175.

Keywords

engine officers
role conflict
job content
stress
work-family conflict

Authors

Leif W. Rydstedt
Monica Lundh

References (40)
  1. Karasek RA, Theorell T. Healthy Work: Stress, Productivity and the Reconstruction of Working Life. Basic Books, New York 1990.
  2. de Lange AH, Taris TW, Kompier MAJ, et al. "The very best of the millennium": longitudinal research and the demand-control-(support) model. J Occup Health Psychol. 2003; 8(4): 282–305.
  3. Marmot M, Siegrist J, Theorell T, Feeney A. Health and the psychosocial environment at work. In: Marmot M, Wilkinson RG. ed. Social Determinants of Health. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999: 105–131.
  4. Bloor M, Thomas M, Lane T. Health risks in the global shipping industry: An overview. Health, Risk & Society. 2000; 2(3): 329–340.
  5. Lützhöft M, Bohlin M, Nodin K. Slutrapport fr å n Funktionsbaserad Bemanning: En förstudie (Final report from Function Based Manning). Gothenburg, 2008.
  6. Lützhöft M. The Technology is Great when it Works. Maritime Technology and Human Integration on the Ship’s Bridge. 2004, Likoping.
  7. Hetherington C, Flin R, Mearns K. Safety in shipping: the human element. J Safety Res. 2006; 37(4): 401–411.
  8. Håvold JI. Safety-culture in a Norwegian shipping company. J Safety Res. 2005; 36(5): 441–458.
  9. Zeitlin L. Organizational downsizing and stress-related illness. International Journal of Stress Management. 1995; 2(4): 207–219.
  10. Agterberg G, Passchier J. Stress among seamen. Psychol Rep. 1998; 83(2): 708–710.
  11. Arendt J, Middleton B, Williams P, et al. Sleep and circadian phase in a ship's crew. J Biol Rhythms. 2006; 21(3): 214–221.
  12. Wadsworth EJK, Allen PH, McNamara RL, et al. Fatigue and health in a seafaring population. Occup Med (Lond). 2008; 58(3): 198–204.
  13. Elo AL. Health and stress of seafarers. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1985; 11(6): 427–432.
  14. Oldenburg M, Jensen HJ, Latza U, et al. Seafaring stressors aboard merchant and passenger ships. Int J Public Health. 2009; 54(2): 96–105.
  15. Jensen OC, Sørensen JFL, Thomas M, et al. Working conditions in international seafaring. Occup Med (Lond). 2006; 56(6): 393–397.
  16. van Vegchel N, de Jonge J, Bosma H, et al. Reviewing the effort-reward imbalance model: drawing up the balance of 45 empirical studies. Soc Sci Med. 2005; 60(5): 1117–1131.
  17. Sparks K, Cooper CL. Occupational differences in the workstrain relationship: Towards the use of situation-specific models. J Occup Org Psychol. 1999; 72: 219–229.
  18. Veldhoven Mv, Taris T, Jonge Jde, et al. The Relationship Between Work Characteristics and Employee Health and Well-Being: How Much Complexity Do We Really Need? International Journal of Stress Management. 2005; 12(1): 3–28.
  19. Rizzo J, House R, Lirtzman S. Role Conflict and Ambiguity in Complex Organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly. 1970; 15(2): 150–163.
  20. Jex SM, Adams GA, Bachrach DG, et al. The impact of situational constraints, role stressors, and commitment on employee altruism. J Occup Health Psychol. 2003; 8(3): 171–180.
  21. Hurrell JJ, McLaney MA. Exposure to job stress--a new psychometric instrument. Scand J Work Environ Health. 1988; 14 Suppl 1: 27–28.
  22. King LA, King DW. Role conflict and role ambiguity: A critical assessment of construct validity. Psychol Bull. 1990; 107: 48–64.
  23. Siegrist J, Marmot M. Health inequalities and the psychosocial environment-two scientific challenges. Soc Sci Med. 2004; 58(8): 1463–1473.
  24. Lodde B, Jegaden D, Lucas D, et al. Stress in seamen and non seamen employed by the same company. Int Marit Health. 2008; 59(1-4): 53–60.
  25. Greenhaus JH, Beutell NJ. Sources of Conflict Between Work and Family Roles. Academy of Management Review. 1985; 10(1): 76–88.
  26. Brotheridge C, Lee R. Impact of Work-Family Interference on General Well-Being: A Replication and Extension. International Journal of Stress Management. 2005; 12(3): 203–221.
  27. Clays E, Kittel F, Godin I, et al. Measures of work-family conflict predict sickness absence from work. J Occup Environ Med. 2009; 51(8): 879–886.
  28. Cullen JC, Hammer LB. Developing and testing a theoretical model linking work-family conflict to employee safety. J Occup Health Psychol. 2007; 12(3): 266–278.
  29. Hammer LB, Cullen JC, Neal MB, et al. The longitudinal effects of work-family conflict and positive spillover on depressive symptoms among dual-earner couples. J Occup Health Psychol. 2005; 10(2): 138–154.
  30. Hammer TH, Saksvik PØ, Nytrø K, et al. Expanding the psychosocial work environment: workplace norms and work-family conflict as correlates of stress and health. J Occup Health Psychol. 2004; 9(1): 83–97.
  31. Parker AW, Hubinger LM, Green S, Sargeant L, Boyd RA. Survey of the Health, Stress and Fatigue of Australian Seafarers. Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Canberra 1997.
  32. Thomas M, Bailey N. Square pegs in round holes? leave periods and role displacement in UK-based seafaring families. Work, employment and society. 2006; 20(1): 129–149.
  33. Devereux J, Rydstedt L, Kelly V, Weston P, Buckle P. The Role of Work Stress and Psychological Factors upon the Development of Musculoskeletal Disorders. HSE Books RR 273, Norwich 2004.
  34. Sjöfartsverket. Sjöfartsverkets författningssamling SJÖFS 2007:11 Sjöfartsverkets föreskrifter och allmänna r å d om utbildning och behörigheter för sjöpersonal (The Swedish Maritime Administration). The Administration’s Statue Book SJÖFS 2004:11 the Swedish Maritime Administration’s Directions and General Advice on Education and Certificates the Swedish Maritime Administration for Sea Personnel) 2007.
  35. SOC2000. http://www.ons.gov.uk (01.08.2010).
  36. NIOSH Generic Job Stress Questionnaire. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/work.org/tools/niosh-job-stress-questionnaire.html (06.04.2010).
  37. Stansfeld S, Head J, Marmot M. Work-Related Factors and Ill-Health: The Whitehall II Study. HSE Books: Contract Research Report 266, , Norwich 2000.
  38. Goldberg DP, Williams P. A User’s Guide to the General Health Questionnaire. NFER-Nelson, Windsor 1988.
  39. Cohen S, Williamson G. Perceived stress in a probability sample of the United States. In: Spacapan S, Oskamp S. ed. The Social Psychology of Health. The Claremont Symposium on Applied Social Psychology. US: Sage Publications, , Thousand Oaks, CA 1988: 31–67.
  40. Eldh C. Den riskfyllda gemenskapen — Att hantera säkerheten p å ett passagerarfartyg (The Risk Filled Community — Handling Safety On a Passenger Ship). Lund, 2004.

Important: This website uses cookies. More >>

The cookies allow us to identify your computer and find out details about your last visit. They remembering whether you've visited the site before, so that you remain logged in - or to help us work out how many new website visitors we get each month. Most internet browsers accept cookies automatically, but you can change the settings of your browser to erase cookies or prevent automatic acceptance if you prefer.

By "Via Medica sp. z o.o." sp.k., ul. Świętokrzyska 73, 80–180 Gdańsk

tel.:+48 58 320 94 94, faks:+48 58 320 94 60, e-mail:  viamedica@viamedica.pl