Anyone who has been in regular contact with the media during the last 10 years must have been impressed by the amount of information and interest in health and the stresses of modern life. Much of the attention has been centred on the role of work in creating stress and its possible contribution to major illnesses such as heart disease, stomach ulcers and hypertension. This interest has been stimulated by an ever growing amount of research into stress at work. Friedman and Rosenman in California have carried out many large scale studies of the role of behaviour/personality in causing heart disease. This lead to a semi‐popular book called A‐Type Behavior and your Heart. Three large surveys have been reported in the last few years: Caplan et al. carried out a survey of 2,300 persons from 23 different occupations for the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. They collected data on perceived stressors at work, perceived strain and perceived supports from inside and outside the organisation. Physiological measures were taken from a sub‐sample of 390 The results are very complex but the most stressed persons were in occupations which involve tasks that are simple but inescapable such as in machine‐minding. Such jobs are low in status and the strain is possibly exacerbated by lack of support from both inside and outside the organisation. Zaleznik et al. studied over 2,000 managers and supervisors from a large Canadian Corporation. Pearlin and Schooler conducted a survey of 2,600 persons for the National Institute of Mental Health. As well as exploring the nature of the stresses and strains experienced by these people the authors asked about the different kinds of strategies they used to cope with their problems. Four different problem areas were explored: marital, child‐rearing, economic and work. It was found that the people with a greater range of coping strategies felt less strained except in the area of work. The authors suggested that this was because the in dividual person can do little to remove the stresses at work since they are inherent in the system. Coping with work problems, they argue, needs to be done more at the level of the system.
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