Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care: School of Medicine: University of California, Irvine
Education

Wellness Program

Fatigue and Stress Management Series

Coping With Work and Family Stress

For your information we have provided this informative brochure.

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In recognition of the stressors and demands associated with residency training, we provide our CA-1 residents with a stress management intervention that is based on a tripartite conceptual model of adaptive coping behavior: attacking the problem, rethinking the problem, and managing the stress.

The model is derived from Pearlin and Schooler’s (1978) hierarchy of coping mechanisms:

  1. Responses that change the situation
  2. Responses that control the meaning of the stressful experience
  3. Responses that function more to control stress after it has emerged

The aim is to teach residents behavioral, social, and cognitive coping strategies to modify work and family risk and protective factors, given the relationship of these factors to psychological symptoms and substance use.

The first component of the intervention focuses on teaching methods to residents that can potentially eliminate or modify the sources of stress.

WellnessThe second component teaches techniques that do not eliminate the stressor, but which help to modify cognitive and appraisal processes that lead to or exacerbate the experience of stress.

The third component emphasizes stress management and minimizing the use of avoidance coping.

Throughout, the focus is on the development and application of skills to meet demands encountered in work and family environments. The final session integrates the course material through the creation of participants’ own personal stress management plans.

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How it Works

Wellness Session

The aim of the intervention is to teach residents behavioral, social, and cognitive coping strategies to modify work and family risk and protective factors, given the relationship of these factors to psychological symptoms and substance use. The intervention consists of 16, 1 1/2-hour sessions conducted during regular work hours. The department provides release time to facilitate consistent participation in the program.

The first component focuses on teaching methods to employees aimed at eliminating or modifying the sources of stress so that continuing efforts to cope with a particular stressor are less needed. This part of the curriculum includes training on the identification and analysis of stressful situations and the use of effective problem solving, effective communication, and their social networks.

The second component teaches techniques to modify cognitive and appraisal processes. These approaches (e.g., cognitive restructuring) are particularly necessary for stressors that cannot be directly modified.

The third component emphasizes stress management (e.g., relaxation techniques, exercise) and minimizing the use of avoidance coping (e.g., reinforcing alternatives to the use of alcohol to reduce tension, teaching refusal skills). The stress management techniques taught early on are practiced for a few minutes at the beginning of each subsequent session for reinforcement purposes.

The final session integrates the course material through the creation of participants’ own personal stress management plans. Participants are to continue to utilize their plan following the completion of the intervention to extend and maintain positive program effects.

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Program Benefits

Studies investigating the effectiveness of the intervention “Coping with Work and Family Stress: A Workplace Preventive Intervention” have demonstrated positive effects of the intervention on employees’ reported stressor levels, active and avoidance coping strategies, and psychological symptoms and substance use. As predicted, participants in the intervention as Image from a resident Wellness retreatcompared to those in control conditions, reported reductions in work and family stressors, increases in social support from supervisors and co-workers, enhanced use of active coping strategies, such as problem solving, cognitive restructuring, and social support coping, and decreased use of avoidance coping strategies. Correspondingly, participants in the intervention reported fewer psychological symptoms, less alcohol consumption, a decreased tendency to use alcohol to reduce tension, and less use of illicit substances.

The results of careful investigation have provided support for the risk- and protective-factor model that guided the workplace intervention. The effects have now been demonstrated across a range of work settings and with employees who have diverse occupational and demographic characteristics.

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