The psychosocial work environment among educators during the COVID-19 pandemic

Publication type
Journal article
Smith PM, Oudyk J, Cedillo L, Inouye K, Potter G, Mustard C
Date published
2022 Jun 01
Occupational Medicine
Open Access?

BACKGROUND: The education sector has been heavily impacted by COVID-19. While the impact on school-aged children has received much attention, less attention has focused on the experiences of educators. AIMS: To compare various dimensions of the psychosocial work environment and health outcomes between educators engaged in online learning to those engaged in in-person learning in the Canadian province of Ontario. METHODS: Responses from 5438 educators engaged in either online or in-person learning were collected between 23 November and 21 December 2020; three months after the start of the 2020/21 academic year in September 2020. Psychosocial outcomes included quantitative demands, work pace, predictability, role conflicts, and social support from supervisors and co-workers; assessed using an abbreviated version of the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire. Secondary outcomes included burnout and sleep troubles. Ordinary Least-Squares regression models examined adjusted mean differences in the levels of outcomes for respondents in in-person versus online learning, after adjustment for a variety of covariates. RESULTS: Compared to respondents engaged in in-person learning, respondents engaged in online learning reported less predictability, higher role conflicts and less support from supervisors and co-workers. Statistically significant differences in work pace, burnout and sleep troubles were also observed across learning modes, although these differences did not exceed previously suggested thresholds for minimum important differences. CONCLUSIONS: Important differences in the psychosocial work environment were observed between respondents engaged in in-person learning versus online learning. Addressing these differences is required, given the potential continued importance of online learning within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond