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A Defining Aspect of Human Resilience in the Workplace: A Structural Modeling Approach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 April 2013


Objectives: It has been estimated that up to 90% of the US population is exposed to at least 1 traumatic event during their lifetime. Although there is growing evidence that most people are resilient, meaning that they have the ability to adapt to or rebound from adversity, between 5% and 10% of individuals exposed to traumatic events meet criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. Therefore, identifying the elements of resilience could lead to interventions or training programs designed to enhance resilience. In this article, we test the hypothesis that the effects of stressor conditions on outcomes such as job-related variables may be mediated through the cognitive and affective registrations of those events, conceptualized as subjective stress arousal.

Methods: The subjects were 491 individuals employed in public accounting, who were sampled from a mailing list provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The stressors used in this study were role ambiguity, role conflict, and role overload and the outcome measures were performance, turnover intentions, job satisfaction, and burnout. Stress arousal was measured using a previously developed stress arousal scale. We conducted a series of 2 EQS structural modeling analyses to assess the impact of stress arousal. The first model examined only the direct effects from the role stressors to the outcome constructs. The second model inserted stress arousal as a mediator in the relations between the role stressors and the outcomes.

Results: The results of our investigation supported the notion that subjective stress arousal provides greater explanatory clarity by mediating the effects of stressors upon job-related outcome. Including stress arousal in the model provided a much more comprehensive understanding of the relation between stressor and outcomes, and the contribution of role ambiguity and role conflict were better explained.

Conclusions: By understanding these relations, anticipatory guidance and crisis intervention programs can be designed and implemented to enhance human resilience. These data could serve to improve training programs for these “at risk” professional groups or even the population as a whole.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:98–105)

Original Research
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2011

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