Occupational Stress and Coping Strategies in Health Professions Academics at a Historically Disadvantaged Institution in South Africa





occupational stress, coping, health professions academics, higher education, online survey


Health professions academics experience additional profession-related stressors that negatively affect health and performance outcomes. Understanding these stressors in the context of the institution where the health professions academic is employed was recommended. Historically disadvantaged institutions reportedly experience additional stressors, such as resource constraints, which may further affect occupational stress. In the study, we examined the relationship between sources of occupational stress and coping strategies among health professions academics. An online survey was conducted with 51 health professions academics employed at a historically disadvantaged institution. A demographic questionnaire, the Sources of Work Stress Inventory and the Brief Coping Orientation to Problems Experienced Inventory were used for data collection. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics and correlations. The findings indicated that the respondents experienced moderate levels of stress across all nine sources of occupational stress. Work/home interface, workload and general work stress were the three highest ranked sources of stress. The respondents responded more frequently with problem-focused and emotion-focused coping, although maladaptive coping, including avoidance, venting, self-blame and denial, was also reported. The results suggest that health professions academics use expressive maladaptive coping strategies pervasively when stressed, albeit less so than adaptive coping strategies. An understanding of the relationship between sources of occupational stress and coping strategies can inform intervention and improve health and performance outcomes in health professions academics.


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Author Biography

Erica Munnik, University of the Western Cape

Erica Munnik is a Senior lecturer and Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Psychology at the University of the Western Cape. She did her PhD in Psychology at the University of the Western Cape.


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How to Cite

Munnik, Erica, Mario Smith, and Abigail Simons. 2022. “Occupational Stress and Coping Strategies in Health Professions Academics at a Historically Disadvantaged Institution in South Africa”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 34:20 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2708-9355/10316.
Received 2021-11-12
Accepted 2022-11-14
Published 2022-12-22