Workplace stress interventions using participatory action research designs

McVicar, Andrew J. and Munn-Giddings, Carol and Seebohm, Patience (2013) Workplace stress interventions using participatory action research designs. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 6 (1). pp. 18-37. ISSN 1753-836X

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Purpose – Complex collaborative interventions are increasingly applied for stress management but outcomes are inconsistent. “Collaboration” is most highly developed in participatory action research (PAR). Future research might be guided by understanding features integral to successful PAR designs. The purpose of this paper is to present a review of PAR studies which had predominantly positive outcomes, in order to identify features of their designs. Design/methodology/approach – In total, 48 collaborative intervention studies (1982-2010) were identified, and filtered according to positive outcomes (improved working environment, job performance, absenteeism, and stress levels), and PAR criteria for stakeholder engagement: 11 studies from six countries were selected for scoping review. Findings – Organization size and sector was not important for PAR, but the extent of uptake of an intervention/change is and a “unit” of up to 100 employees was engaged in most of the studies reviewed. Study aims should not be over-ambitious. Long-term involvement of “change agents” or “action groups” in close communication with a steering group appears most effective in engaging employees over a long period of time, ideally 12+ months. Self-report scales dominated evaluations (21 different scales; range 1-7 per study) but this strategy is challenged by impacts of organizational change and staff turnover on response rates. Comparison with a non-intervention group appears to strengthen the evaluation, but PAR also provides an opportunity to implement an innovative strategy sensitive to the workplace situation. PAR provides scope to engage managers as participants. The participatory process was least effective where this was unsuccessful. Research limitations/implications – PAR has high potential for the engagement of management, and identification of a rigorous evaluation strategy, that would facilitate the efficacy of collaborative designs. Originality/value – Insights are provided into characteristics of highly collaborative, and demonstrably effective, PAR designs.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Organizational change, Stress, Wellness interventions, Research methods, Workplace wellness
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 16 May 2013 10:18
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 16:16

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