Much research into work-related stress is based on retrospective self-reports, whereas records made at the time could be more valuable. In this study the primary components of two models of work stress, Karasek's demand-control (DC) model and Siegrist's effort-reward imbalance (ERI), were assessed in trained nurses using ambulatory diaries and traditional questionnaire methods. The diaries were entered on small hand-held computers and the method used has been termed ecological momentary assessment (EMA), in which recordings are made in real time in the working environment. The participants were 36 nurses who completed standardized questionnaires evaluating ERI, strain (from DC model), and, over three shifts, computerized behavioural diaries that measured effort-demand, control, reward, and stress every 90 minutes on average, enabling determination of strain and ERI repeatedly in the work situation. A total of 674 observations were recorded. Using multilevel linear modelling, it was found that the questionnaire and computerized diary derived measures of strain (DC) and ERI were reliably correlated. In addition, the ambulatory measures of both strain (DC) and ERI correlated with ratings of stress taken at the same time. From this study it would appear that ambulatory diaries could be a powerful and flexible way of assessing work related stress and its putative determinants in a real life work setting.
- Effort reward imbalance
- Demand control model
- Diary study
- Ecological momentary assessment
- Work-related stress