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Job strain related to cognitive failure in naval personnel

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The Naval Service Stress Study (2007-2012) is investigating job strain, its characteristics, causes and distribution in the Service. Data from phases I, II and III of the study (January 2007, June 2007 and January 2008) were analysed to determine the relationship between General Health questionnaire scores and a score on the Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ) completed at phase III. Of 791 personnel who completed questionnaires at all phases, 43.6% had no job strain at any phase, whereas 9.9% had strain on all three occasions ('chronic strain'). 27% had strain at one of the three phases and 19% had strain at two of the three phases. The particular phase at which job strain was experienced was not related to CFQ score at phase III, whereas the total strain experienced over the period was related. High strain over the year was the strongest predictor of high CFQ score. A 'strain dose' variable, which combined both the amount of strain exposure and the timing of the exposure, explained little additional variance in CFQ score. The findings might be interpreted to indicate that a high CFQ score is a vulnerability factor for adverse reactions to work stress. The hypothesis that recent job strain elevates CFQ score was not supported. Statement of Relevance:Current models of occupational stress focus on psychosocial factors and much of the advice about stress management in organisations is centred on the identification and control of psychosocial risk factors. The present paper provides evidence that cognitive factors are also important and suggests that support for those with poor executive function should be part of stress management in complex environments.
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Keywords: Navy; cognitive failure; occupational stress; psychological strain

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Naval Medicine, Alverstoke, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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