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Stressors and psychological wellbeing in local humanitarian workers in Colombia

Jaime Abad Vergara (School of Psychology, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)
Dianne Gardner (School of Psychology, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




This study seeks to examine the relationships of stressors, appraisal and coping with psychological wellbeing in 75 local humanitarian personnel from a local non‐governmental organization from Medellin, Colombia.


Participants answered a pen and paper Spanish version of the Stress Profile.


Wellbeing was related to adaptive patterns of appraisal, coping, satisfaction with social support, and cognitive hardiness. Stressors were related to dissatisfaction with social support and decreased cognitive hardiness. Stressors were not associated with decreased psychological wellbeing, appraisal or coping.

Research limitations/implications

The effects of social support and cognitive hardiness on psychological wellbeing among aid workers deserves further examination. Further research should also examine the impact of other demographic and psychosocial variables such as experience in humanitarian work, workloads, anxiety and depression. Longitudinal studies are needed to examine changes over time.

Practical implications

It is important not to assume that humanitarian workers' psychological wellbeing is compromised. Humanitarian workers in field and administrative roles do not necessarily experience high stress and low wellbeing but support from family members and work colleagues is important.


Most research into aid work has been carried out on expatriate workers in countries other than their own, but the majority of aid personnel work in their own country. National aid workers are unable to leave demanding or dangerous situations and may require different support and coping strategies from international workers. This study adds to the information on local aid workers' mental health and opens up avenues for further research.



Abad Vergara, J. and Gardner, D. (2011), "Stressors and psychological wellbeing in local humanitarian workers in Colombia", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 500-507.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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