University of Leicester
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Coping and stress: Unqualified direct-care staff working with challenging behaviour clients in learning disability residential settings.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 08:58 authored by Patrick. Smithson-Sims
Coping strategies employed by unqualified direct-care staff working in both hospital and community units for clients with challenging behaviours were investigated in relation to experienced stress. A 40-item Coping Questionnaire (developed and previously used in a psychiatric setting), adapted from the work of Lazarus and his co-workers, which claims to delineate problem-focused and emotion-focused strategies, was used to examine the coping strategies employed. The GHQ-12 was used to measure reported stress levels. As there was no reported assessment of the psychometric properties of the 40-item Coping Questionnaire the construct validity, and both the internal and external reliability were analysed. The findings demonstrated adequate validity and reliability. The 105 respondents were found to use both emotion-focused and problem-focused coping strategies when dealing with the demands of the workplace. A significant association was found between use of predominantly problem-focused coping strategies and lower levels of stress and incidence of stress caseness. Also, a significant association was found between use of predominantly emotion-focused coping strategies and higher levels of stress and incidence of stress caseness. This finding is discussed with particular reference to recent research that did not demonstrate an association between a scale based on problem-focused coping and distress. The potential differentiating factors of: work setting (i.e. hospital or community unit), level of contact with clients and the number of colleagues on duty were shown to differentiate between persons reporting higher or lower levels of stress. Respondents who were based in the community, those who spent higher proportions of their working day with challenging behaviour clients and those who worked with fewer colleagues reported significantly higher levels of stress. The overall findings are discussed in relation to broader issues of service provision with particular reference to staff turnover and quality of care. A model of stress and coping is provided and is compared with a model developed from research based on informal carers.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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