Studio 3 have entered into a research collaboration with the Health in Action Stress Research Group at Northumbria University to investigate the causes and consequences of chronic stress.
This is aimed at professionals who provide direct health and social care services to people who display behaviours that challenge. The collaboration will support a PhD programme for researcher Daniel Rippon and will be supervised by Dr Mark Wetherell and Dr Michael Smith alongside Studio 3’s Dr Michael McCreadie and Dr Andrew McDonnell.
Being a formal carer in various specialisms, such as mental health, learning disabilities and age related illnesses can be a highly stressful profession. According to the Health and Safety Executive, 35% of work related illnesses in the UK are due to stress, with professionals who work within health and social care settings being identified as a high risk group of experiencing chronic stressors due to their profession. Previous research conducted by the Health in Action Research Group has shown that informal caregivers experience greater levels of psychological distress and this is associated with poorer memory performance, increased incidences of ill-health, atypical secretion of the stress hormone cortisol and increased levels of a marker of inflammation linked to coronary risk. This collaboration will now assess these factors in formal carers.
The first study of this new collaboration will commence in April 2016 and will consist of conducting focus groups with formal carers who provide direct health/social care services across the private, statutory and third sectors. The purpose of this is to ascertain the experiences of health and social care professionals who manage behaviours that challenge as part of their role as a means to develop a thorough understanding of the perceived causes, impacts on health and protective factors against formal carer stress. This will be followed by subsequent studies where we will empirically test the impact of any stressors identified in the focus groups and work towards an easy to administer intervention that seeks to reduce perceived stress and stress-related problems.
This collaboration between Studio 3 and Northumbria University aims to produce a body of research that will make a significant contribution to stress management strategies and working practices for formal carers as a means to ensure good standards of employee welfare and best practice within the profession.