Cooper, C.L., Cartwright, S. and Faragher, E.B., University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology
Existing questionnaire-based scales for estimating work-related stress are traditionally long and laborious to complete - and usually apply only to white collar workers. A shortened screening questionnaire has been developed which is quick and easy to complete, and which can be applied to a much wider group of occupations. The SOS has been used in a large-scale study of several thousand employees in 10-15 large UK-based and multinational organisations, in conjunction with standard measures of job satisfaction and general health. Self-reported sickness absence data were also recorded for each participant. A factor analysis (principal components analysis followed by an oblique rotation to accommodate non- orthogonal factors) identified ten dimensions to the SOS. The reliability, validity and sensitivity levels for these factors will be described. The statistical relationships between the SOS scales and sickness absence rates will be explored. Important differences found between the SOS stress profiles of employees in public and private sector organisations will be described. Comparisons across a number of occupational groups (ranging from managers through to technical and administrative staff) will also be presented. The SOS will be shown to be a reliable and effective instrument for detecting evidence of organisational stress. A "two-stage" stress screening process, in which the SOS is completed by all employees and then a more comprehensive instrument given to a sample stratified using the SOS scores, will be described.