02/07/2005

Ethnicity, work characteristics, stress and health

The British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released a report
investigating the prevalence of reported occupational stress and psychiatric
disorder in Black Caribbean, Asian and White workers and to understand the
reasons for differences in occupational stress between ethnic groups.

In an earlier study, the Bristol Stress andHealth at Work Study, 30% of the
non-White group reported very high, or extremely high, levels of stress at work
compared to 18% of white workers. It is important to understand why there were
excess stress levels in ethnic minority workers but it was not possible to
pursue this further as the proportion of non-White workers in the Bristol
sample was small.

Conclusion - the combination of racial discrimination with gender and ethnicity
is powerfully influential in work stress. This makes particular groups (such as
Black Caribbean women who have experienced racial discrimination) more likely
to experience work stress. Tackling racial discrimination at work, by creating
an inclusive, supportive and open workplace, would impact on work stress, and
would in turn reduce the potential for psychological damage.

The now published study had three main aims:


  • to determine whether different ethnic groups report similar levels of work
    stress and whether they show similar associations between work characteristics,
    work stress and health;
  • to determine whether different ethnic groups have similar profiles of
    associations between demographic and occupational factors and stress;
  • and third to give guidance on work issues associated with ethnicity. The
    results showed an association between ethnicity and work stress.

Underlying this seemed to be racial discrimination which, particularly in
combination with gender and ethnicity, had a strong influence on work stress.
Similarly, ethnicity and psychological distress were associated, reflecting
links between psychological distress and both racial discrimination and work
stress. Well-established associations between work characteristics and stress
were replicated. These effects, and the profile of other associated factors,
were similar in the three ethnic groups. The results show that consideration
must be given to how ethnicity affects workers and greater responsibility for
its management fostered. In addition, the effects of racial discrimination on
performance must be considered and minimum practice standards established.
These should involve the acknowledgement and inclusion of all ethnic groups and
cultural issues in all work practices and procedures. Tackling racial
discrimination at work, by creating an inclusive, supportive and open
workplace, would impact on work stress and reduce the potential for
psychological damage.

Further Information


AplusA-online.de - Source: Health and Safety Executive