Structural equation modeling of occupational stress in the construction industry

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Journal of Construction Engineering and Management

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American Society of Civil Engineers


University of Cape Town

Construction professionals can experience high levels of occupational stress, leading to psychological, physiological, and sociological strain effects and with sufferers adopting different coping mechanisms to mitigate their condition. An online opinion survey gathered data, including self-assessments of stress, from 676 architects, civil engineers, quantity surveyors, and project and construction managers in South Africa. Based on correlation and regression analysis of the response data, an integrated conceptual trial model of occupational stress was proposed. This model, comprising demographic factors, job demand, control and support factors, harassment and discrimination at work, organizational climate, and psychological, physiological, and sociological strain effects, posited substance use as the terminal consequence of job stress. Structural equation modeling was then used to test the conceptual model. The results indicate that (1) the terminal consequence of occupational stress is not substance use but rather psychological, physiological, and sociological strain effects; (2) organizational climate is largely determined by gender, job demand, and control and support factors; (3) age, gender, level of job control, and organizational climate are significant predictors of discrimination; (4) psychological strain is significantly predicted by age, job demand, and job control factors, and by organizational climate; (5) sociological strain is determined by age, job demands, discrimination, and psychological strain; and (6) age, and sociological and psychological strain effects, behave as significant predictors of physiological stress effects. As mitigation strategies for occupational stress, employers should first target primary prevention measures by conducting regular reviews of work scheduling requirements and workload allocations. They should empower employees with greater job control, and foster a more supportive work environment. Secondary measures to address organizational impacts would include undertaking employee stress appraisals and holding stress management workshops. The workplace needs of female construction professionals need particular attention.