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Eustress, distress and their interpretation in primary and secondary occupational stress management interventions: which way first?

Mark Le Fevre (Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences and Faculty of Business, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Gregory S. Kolt (Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Jonathan Matheny (College of Business, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 1 August 2006

Abstract

Purpose

To develop an argument for the retention of secondary approaches to stress management (those that focus on the individual within the organization) as first interventions, prior to the employment of primary approaches (those that focus on the organization's processes and structures). This is based on a reconsideration of eustress versus distress and a review of current empirical evidence on the effectiveness of stress management interventions.

Design/methodology/approach

Major empirical studies and reviews are critically reviewed and placed within a theoretical framework derived from both early and more recent work in the field.

Findings

There is little empirical evidence on which to base recommendations for organization‐based stress management interventions as first or sole approaches and therefore the value of these as first or sole approaches is questioned. Instead secondary, individual‐focused, approaches are recommended as first‐line interventions prior to the adoption of organization‐based interventions.

Practical implications

In practice secondary stress management approaches are currently most common. Broader primary approaches appear to have excellent theoretical support and a growing body of supportive literature and accompanying recommendations for employment. We suggest, however, that secondary approaches be employed prior to the introduction of primary methodologies within a client organization.

Originality/value

This paper provides a review and framework for interpreting/understanding the research on the effectiveness of stress management interventions and makes recommendations relevant to practitioners in the field.

Keywords

Citation

Le Fevre, M., Kolt, G.S. and Matheny, J. (2006), "Eustress, distress and their interpretation in primary and secondary occupational stress management interventions: which way first?", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 21 No. 6, pp. 547-565. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683940610684391

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited