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Special Issue "Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Care Sciences & Services".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 November 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Jermaine Ravalier
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Science, Bath Spa University, Newton Park, Newton St Loe, Bath BA2 9BN, UK
Interests: stress; wellbeing; healthcare; social work; social care; education; health; mental health
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the United Kingdom, as in much of the rest of Europe and around the rest of the world, stress and mental health at work are considerable challenges for the health of both employees and their employing organisations. It is now widely known that chronic stress is as much of a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, for example, as well-known risks such as smoking and high blood pressure. Therefore, in the United Kingdom, stress, depression, and anxiety are the leading cause of long-term sickness absence (absence that lasts for four weeks or more), and is second only to colds/flu for short-term absences.

The public sector—police, education, social work, healthcare, and so on—is consistently more heavily affected by stress- and mental health-related sickness absence than private sector occupations. Indeed, healthcare, social care, and education are the most heavily affected employment sectors, costing the state and individual organisations millions. However, sickness absence not only impacts employees and employers, it also has knock-on effects for service users and patients. For example, research has demonstrated that healthcare employers with higher levels of sickness absence and lower levels of engagement had a worsened morbidity and mortality outcomes for patients.

This Special Edition invites papers surrounding two topics, both related to public sector employers from across the globe, namely:

  • Causes of stress- and mental health-related sickness absence.
  • Evidence-based interventions that seek to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Therefore, I invite you to submit papers that span either one or both of these topics.

Dr. Jermaine M Ravalier
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • stress
  • health
  • wellbeing
  • mental health
  • public sector
  • police
  • education
  • social work
  • interventions

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Work-Related Challenges among Primary Health Centers Workers during COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1898; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041898 - 16 Feb 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1831
Abstract
This study aimed to identify certain occupational risk factors for stress among healthcare workers (HCWs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a multistage random sampling approach, an online questionnaire was applied to collect data on role conflict and ambiguity, self-esteem and social support from [...] Read more.
This study aimed to identify certain occupational risk factors for stress among healthcare workers (HCWs) during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a multistage random sampling approach, an online questionnaire was applied to collect data on role conflict and ambiguity, self-esteem and social support from 1378 HCWs working in primary health centers (regular and fever clinics; clinics specialized in managing patients with COVID-19 symptoms) across Saudi Arabia. The results showed that stress correlated positively with role conflict and ambiguity and negatively with social support. HCWs in fever clinics exhibited significantly more stress and role conflict and ambiguity than those who were working in regular primary healthcare centers. In conclusion, role conflict and ambiguity and social support were determinants for stress among HCWs, especially those working in fever clinics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
Article
Work Support, Role Stress, and Life Satisfaction among Chinese Social Workers: The Mediation Role of Work-Family Conflict
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(23), 8881; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17238881 - 29 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1002
Abstract
The current study examined the relationships among work support, role stress, work-family conflict, and life satisfaction, with a sample of social workers in China’s Pearl River Delta (N = 1414). Using structure equation modelling, the study revealed that social workers’ life satisfaction [...] Read more.
The current study examined the relationships among work support, role stress, work-family conflict, and life satisfaction, with a sample of social workers in China’s Pearl River Delta (N = 1414). Using structure equation modelling, the study revealed that social workers’ life satisfaction reduced because of role conflict and work-family conflicts. Work-family conflict partially mediated the negative effects of role ambiguity and conflict on social workers’ life satisfaction. Work support from their director, manager, supervisor, and co-workers protectively reduced role stress and work-family conflict. The findings emphasize the significance of managing the interference between work and family for social workers’ well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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Article
Co-Creating and Evaluating an App-Based Well-Being Intervention: The HOW (Healthier Outcomes at Work) Social Work Project
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(23), 8730; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17238730 - 24 Nov 2020
Viewed by 915
Abstract
Stress and mental health at work are the leading causes of long-term sickness absence in the UK, with chronically poor working conditions impacting employee physiological and psychological health. Social workers play a significant part in the fabric of UK society, but have one [...] Read more.
Stress and mental health at work are the leading causes of long-term sickness absence in the UK, with chronically poor working conditions impacting employee physiological and psychological health. Social workers play a significant part in the fabric of UK society, but have one of the most stressful occupations in the country. The aim of this project was to work with UK social workers to co-develop, implement, and evaluate a series of smartphone-based mental health initiatives. A Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach, consisting of semi-structured interviews and focus group and steering group discussions, was utilized to design the mental health and well-being interventions. Study efficacy was evaluated via a pre- and post-intervention survey and post-intervention semi-structured interviews. Interventions developed were psycho-educational, improved top-down and bottom-up communication, and provided access to a Vocational Rehabilitation Assistant for those struggling and at risk of sickness absence. Six months following dissemination, surveys demonstrated significant improvements in communication, and mean score improvements in four other working conditions. This project, therefore, demonstrates that co-developed initiatives can be positively impactful, despite post-intervention data collection being impacted by COVID-19. Future studies should build upon these findings and broaden the PAR approach nationally while taking a robust approach to evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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Article
Social Support and Well-Being of Chinese Special Education Teachers—An Emotional Labor Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6884; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186884 - 21 Sep 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1037
Abstract
Due to their high expectations, teachers often hide their real emotions and play a role that conforms to public expectations of educational work. Special education teachers face a group of students with physical and mental disabilities who have high heterogeneity and require individualized [...] Read more.
Due to their high expectations, teachers often hide their real emotions and play a role that conforms to public expectations of educational work. Special education teachers face a group of students with physical and mental disabilities who have high heterogeneity and require individualized services every day. Using social support theory, this study discusses special education teachers’ emotional labor and well-being. A total of 439 special education teachers in China participated in this study. We collected data at two different time-points and verified the research hypotheses with hierarchical regression and structural equation modeling analysis. The research findings show the mediating role of emotional labor in social support and well-being. It is, therefore, suggested that schools should pay more attention to special education teachers’ mental health and provide them with regular guidance and support. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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Article
Work Stress in NHS Employees: A Mixed-Methods Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6464; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186464 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2033
Abstract
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) has a higher-than-average level of stress-related sickness absence of all job sectors in the country. It is important that this is addressed as work stress is damaging to employees and the organisation, and subsequently impacts patient [...] Read more.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) has a higher-than-average level of stress-related sickness absence of all job sectors in the country. It is important that this is addressed as work stress is damaging to employees and the organisation, and subsequently impacts patient care. The aim of this study was to gain an in-depth understanding of working conditions and wellbeing in NHS employees from three employing NHS Trusts through a mixed-methods investigation. First, a cross-sectional organisational survey was completed by 1644 respondents. Questions examined working conditions, stress, psychological wellbeing, job satisfaction, and presenteeism. This was followed by 33 individual semistructured interviews with NHS staff from a variety of clinical and nonclinical roles. Quantitative findings revealed that working conditions were generally positive, although most staff groups had high levels of workload. Regression outcomes demonstrated that a number of working conditions influenced mental wellbeing and stress. Three themes were generated from thematic analysis of the interview data: wellbeing at work, relationships, and communication. These highlight areas which may be contributing to workplace stress. Suggestions are made for practical changes which could improve areas of difficulty. Such changes could improve staff wellbeing and job satisfaction and reduce sickness absence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
Article
Factors and Beliefs that Condition the Attitude of Health Science Students towards End of Life in Spain and Bolivia: A Multicenter Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6373; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176373 - 01 Sep 2020
Viewed by 805
Abstract
Health Science students in Spain and Bolivia should be trained in the management of the processes of death and dying of patients. The aim of this study was to examine the degree of training, self-perceived safety and preferences in relation to the care [...] Read more.
Health Science students in Spain and Bolivia should be trained in the management of the processes of death and dying of patients. The aim of this study was to examine the degree of training, self-perceived safety and preferences in relation to the care of terminal and non-terminal patients. It was a descriptive, cross-sectional, multicenter study with students of Medicine, Nursing and Physiotherapy in Spain and Bolivia. The following variables were evaluated: care preparation and emotional preparation to caring for terminally ill and non-terminally ill patients, the Death Attitude Profile Revised (PAM-R) and the Bugen Scale for Facing Death. The self-perceived preparation of students for caring for terminally ill patients can be considered “fair” (mean 2.15, SD 0.756), and this was also the case for their perceived emotional preparation (mean 2.19, SD 0.827). In contrast, the score obtained for their preparedness for treating non-terminal patients was higher (mean 2.99 and 3.16, respectively). Working with terminally ill patients, including terminal or geriatric cancer patients, was the least preferred option among future health professionals. The results obtained show a limited preference for end-of-life care and treatment, highlighting a lack of preparation and motivation among health science students in Spain and Bolivia for working with these patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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Article
The Frontline Nurse’s Experience of Nursing Outlier Patients
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 5232; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145232 - 20 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1339
Abstract
The frontline nurses’ experience of nursing with overstretched resources in acute care setting can affect their health and well-being. Little is known about the experience of registered nurses faced with the care of a patient outside their area of expertise. The aim of [...] Read more.
The frontline nurses’ experience of nursing with overstretched resources in acute care setting can affect their health and well-being. Little is known about the experience of registered nurses faced with the care of a patient outside their area of expertise. The aim of this paper is to explore the phenomenon of nursing the outlier patient, when patients are nursed in a ward that is not specifically developed to deal with the major clinical diagnosis involved (e.g., renal patient in gynecology ward). Using a hermeneutic phenomenological approach, eleven individual face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted with registered nurses in New South Wales, Australia. The study identified that each nurse had a specialty construct developed from nursing in a specialized environment. Each nurse had normalized the experience of specialty nursing and had developed a way of thinking and practicing theorized as a “care ladder”. By grouping and analyzing various “care ladders” together, the nursing capacities common to nurses formed the phenomenological orientation, namely “the composite care ladder”. Compared to nursing specialty-appropriate patients, nursing the outlier patient caused disruption of the care ladder, with some nurses becoming less capable as they were nursing the outlier patient. Nursing the outlier patient disrupted the nurses’ normalized constructs of nursing. This study suggests that nursing patients in specialty-appropriate wards will improve patient outcomes and reduce impacts on the nurses’ morale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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Article
Turnover Intention among Field Epidemiologists in South Korea
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 949; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030949 - 04 Feb 2020
Viewed by 1048
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore the level of occupational stress, job satisfaction, and turnover intention among Korean field epidemiologists, and to identify the factors that contribute to their turnover intention. We surveyed the Korean field epidemiologists in the cohort from [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to explore the level of occupational stress, job satisfaction, and turnover intention among Korean field epidemiologists, and to identify the factors that contribute to their turnover intention. We surveyed the Korean field epidemiologists in the cohort from 2016 to 2018 using the Occupational Stress Inventory, revised edition, and questionnaires developed from the Public Health Workforce Interest and Needs Survey. Fisher’s exact test was used to identify the association between sociodemographic characteristics, occupational stress, job satisfaction, and turnover intention. Overall, 17 Korean field epidemiologists participated in this study (response rate: 74%). More than half of field epidemiologists had turnover intention (53%), and it was less likely to be present in the field epidemiologists recruited from the civilian sector than those recruited from the military (adjusted odds ratio, 0.59; 95% confidence interval, 0.39–0.88). Furthermore, about two-thirds of field epidemiologists had a burden of occupational stress on Role Ambiguity (65%), and only one respondent expressed satisfaction with the job. There was no significant relation among the levels of occupational stress, job satisfaction, and turnover intention. In this study, the field epidemiologists recruited from the military were more likely to have turnover intention. Additional studies to identify possible ways to reduce turnover intention among the public health workforce are warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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Article
Analysis of Sociodemographic and Psychological Variables Involved in Sleep Quality in Nurses
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(20), 3846; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16203846 - 11 Oct 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1457
Abstract
Background: Sleep quality is related to health and quality of life and can lead to the development of related disorders. This study analyzed the sociodemographic and psychological factors related to sleep quality in nurses. Methods: The sample comprised 1094 nurses who were assessed [...] Read more.
Background: Sleep quality is related to health and quality of life and can lead to the development of related disorders. This study analyzed the sociodemographic and psychological factors related to sleep quality in nurses. Methods: The sample comprised 1094 nurses who were assessed according to the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Rosenberg Self-esteem Questionnaire, the Goal Content for Exercise Questionnaire, the Brief Emotional Intelligence Inventory, and the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire-R18. Results: The results confirm the impacts of diet, motivation for physical exercise, emotional intelligence, and overall self-esteem on sleep quality in nurses. Conclusions: Sleep quality in healthcare professionals is vitally important for performance at work; therefore, appropriate strategies should be applied to improve it. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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Article
Occupational Stress among Field Epidemiologists in Field Epidemiology Training Programs from the Public Health Sector
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3427; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183427 - 16 Sep 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2969
Abstract
Despite the high-demand work environment for field epidemiologists in field epidemiology training programs, little is known about their occupational stress. To identify occupational stress and its related factors, the occupational stress among trainees in field epidemiology training programs in Southeast Asia and Western [...] Read more.
Despite the high-demand work environment for field epidemiologists in field epidemiology training programs, little is known about their occupational stress. To identify occupational stress and its related factors, the occupational stress among trainees in field epidemiology training programs in Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions from 2016 to 2018 was examined using six subscales: Role Overload, Role Insufficiency, Role Ambiguity, Role Boundary, Responsibility, and Physical Environment. Furthermore, the data on the year of training and type of training program as well as the level of burnout, which affects stress-coping strategies, were collected. Fisher’s exact tests and logistic regression models were used to examine associations between occupational stress, burnout, the number of years of training, and the type of training program. Sixty-two trainees participated, and there were no significant associations between burnout, the year of training, and type of training program. A burden of occupational stress in Role Overload and Physical Environment was reported by 56% and 53% of respondents, respectively. The trainees affiliated with a university program were less likely to have a burden of occupational stress in Responsibility and Physical Environment. It is concerning that more than half of trainees in the programs experienced occupational stress in Role Overload and Physical Environment. Additional efforts to design improved training programs to reduce occupational stress are warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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Review

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Review
Involuntary Pregnancy Loss and Nursing Care: A Meta-Ethnography
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1486; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051486 - 25 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1988
Abstract
Healthcare professionals find the care of parents following an involuntary pregnancy loss stressful and challenging. They also feel unprepared to support bereaved parents. The challenging nature of this support may have a personal impact on health professionals and the care provided to parents. [...] Read more.
Healthcare professionals find the care of parents following an involuntary pregnancy loss stressful and challenging. They also feel unprepared to support bereaved parents. The challenging nature of this support may have a personal impact on health professionals and the care provided to parents. The aim of this meta-ethnography is to synthesise nurses’ and midwives’ experiences of caring for parents following an involuntary pregnancy loss. A meta-ethnography of ten studies from five countries was carried out. GRADE CERQual was assessed to show the degree of confidence in the review findings. An overarching metaphor, caring in darkness, accompanied by five major themes provided interpretive explanations about the experiences of nurses and midwives in caring for involuntary pregnancy losses: (1) Forces that turn off the light, (2) strength to go into darkness, (3) avoiding stumbling, (4) groping in darkness, and (5) wounded after dealing with darkness. Nursing staff dealt with organizational difficulties, which encouraged task-focused care and avoidance of encounters and emotional connection with parents. However, nurses and midwives might go beyond in their care when they had competencies, support, and a strong value base, despite the personal cost involved. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Wellbeing in Public Sector Employees)
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