Canadians report small drop in stressful job situations

In brief

  • There was no evidence that workers experienced an increase in stress due to factors such as the level of control over one’s job, psychological demands and social support between 1994/95 and 2000/01.
  • This is contrary to what the researchers had expected, and to what is often reported in the media.

Published: January 2006

Why was this study done?

Work stress has received increasing attention in both the media and research journals. Stressful job situations have been linked with poorer health. As part of this study, researchers examined the change in levels of work stressors in Canadian workers from 1994/95 to 2000/01. Stressors are factors in a workplace that can cause stress in workers, such as low levels of support from colleagues or supervisors, job insecurity and demanding work.

How was the study done?

The researchers used data from 1994/95 and 2000/01 National Population Health Survey conducted by Statistics Canada. This survey had information from 4,771 working Canadians. Participants were aged 15-64 in 1994/95. The survey included work-related questions such as the level of control over one’s job, psychological demands and social support.

What did the researchers find?

Between 1994/95 and 2000/01, the overall levels of work stressors declined slightly. Of particular note were improvements in job security, and a decrease in physical demands between surveys. Researchers also found lower levels of stressors in men than women. Both men and women with more education reported lower levels of stressors than less-educated workers.

What are some strengths and weaknesses of the study?

The study had many strengths: there was a large number of participants, a very high response rate, and participants represented the Canadian population well. One weakness was that the National Population Health Survey did not measure the full range of work stressors.