An exploratory study on social workers of psychiatric settings in Hong Kong : their stress, strains, and coping

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An exploratory study on social workers of psychiatric settings in Hong Kong : their stress, strains, and coping


Author: Kwong, Wai-ching
Title: An exploratory study on social workers of psychiatric settings in Hong Kong : their stress, strains, and coping
Degree: M.A.
Year: 1997
Subject: Psychiatric social work -- China -- Hong Kong
Social workers -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Studies
Pages: vii, 108 leaves ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: Social work being a human service profession is widely recognized as an occupation characterized with pressure and stress. For those social workers working in psychiatric settings, they have to encounter general work stress as well as particular stressors associated with psychiatric clientele. Many previous studies have identified social work stressors in relation to clientele, organization and individual attributes. (Edelwich and Brodsky, 1983; Cherniss, 1980; Fineman 1985). The effects of work stress can be detrimental. This study on psychiatric social workers' work stress attempts to achieve four aims as follows: 1) to explore perceived work stress of psychiatric social workers; 2) to identify the effects of work stress on workers; 3) to understand coping strategies reported by workers and 4) to bring attention to psychiatric agencies in the stress issues experienced by workers. This is an exploratory study using qualitative research method. Six respondents were identified from different psychiatric social work settings in Tuen Mum. Face-to-face interviews were conducted by the writer in early 1996. The results indicated that heavy work load, inadequate training and supervision, relationship problems and team conflicts, unsatisfactory work environment, organization bureaucracy, role ambiguity, inadequate staff and resources were frequently perceived by social workers as major organizational stressors. The clientele-related stressors commonly reported were emergencies or risks situations, clients' excessive demands and needs for social rehabilitation. Findings also indicated that high proneness to anxiety, self demanding, strong quest for competence and unrealistic expectation are personal attributes to high vulnerability to work stress. The respondents who experienced work stress reported different strains in relation to physiological, psychological and behavioral manifestations. Some respondents applied individual coping and others applied group coping to cope with work stress. Agencies concerned appeared to pay little effort to help. It is note worthy that there are some relationship amongst different stressors. For instances, apart from having direct effect on stress level, the stability of the cases may have positive relationship with the work load both in quality and quantity. Therefore, agencies should pay particular attention of the interwovening effects of different work difficulties faced by the workers. Results of this study would suggest that psychiatric agencies could establish a more supportive work environment through: 1) providing in-service training and quality supervision; 2) organizing crisis intervention program and staff development programs, and; 3) implementing other agency interventions-to improve staffs decision making involvement, to deal wit work load, team conflicts, role ambiguity, dissatisfactory work environment, unfavorable organizational bureaucracies, shortage of staff and resources and giving more understanding and recognition to staff. To conclude, the alleviation of work stress requires agencies to share their responsibilities.

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