Assessing psychosocial work-related stress across five European countries: Implications for workforce development

Margaret Denny, John Wells, Jennifer Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The European Union's (EU) social and employment policy emphasizes that member states should develop workforce development policies that combat work-related stress. Within the EU, there are few comparative data on the psychosocial job strain characteristics and experiences of staff working in the vocational rehabilitative sector in mental health and intellectual disabilities. The purpose of this paper is to discuss a Leonardo Da Vinci-funded project – The Reducing Occupational Stress in Employment Project (ROSE) – which aims to reduce stress amongst managers and support staff working in the mental health and intellectual disability occupational support sector across the EU. Design/methodology/approach – This research paper reports the findings of a small-scale across method study, using a cross-sectional design and focus groups, on psychosocial job strain amongst managers and support workers in five European countries. Data were gathered through administration of the job content questionnaire (JCQ) and a series of focus groups. Findings – Findings from the JCQ showed that just under 20 percent of the sample exhibited symptoms of job strain. Results from the focus groups indicated that the key stressors for workers were balancing work demands with time available to carry out tasks; poor communication within organizations; and feeling unsupported in one's work. In addition, it was found that there are no national or European data collected, at any level, upon which to base effective interventions to combat occupational stress and no effective mechanisms in the workplace to deal with occupational stress for professionals working in this sector. Practical implications – Based on the findings, a web site was developed that provides helpful information to managers, trainers, and support workers to manage personal and organizational stressors and raises awareness of the issue within Europe and beyond. Originality/value – The ROSE project is significant at this time considering the current thrust of EU policy initiatives on mental health, workplace stress and employee well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
JournalThe Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2011


  • European Union
  • Human resource management
  • Psychosocial work related stress
  • Vocational rehabilitative sector


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