Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

"Taking My Breath Away by Keeping Stress at Bay" - an Employee Assistance Program in the Automotive Assembly Plant

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

"Taking My Breath Away by Keeping Stress at Bay" - an Employee Assistance Program in the Automotive Assembly Plant

Article excerpt

Introduction

Stress is a physiological reaction to undesired emotional or physical situations. A stressor is de- fined as any "demand made by the internal or ex- ternal environment that upsets a person's balance and for which restoration is needed" (1). They affect organizational performance by reducing productivity and efficiency (2-4).

Although the development of stress management programs at workplaces is still rather limited (5), the number of studies on worksite stress interven- tion has been gradually increasing and evidence for its effectiveness has been accumulating (6). Stress management interventions under Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be minimized through relaxation training programs like DBE.

DBE or diaphragmatic breathing is known to counteract the fight or flight response symptoms that are often associated with stress exposure (7). It is the act of breathing deeply into the lungs by flexing the diaphragm rather than the rib cage. DBE has been successfully used in the manage- ment of acute stressful tasks (8) showing signifi- cant improvement in the body's hemodynamic changes.

Over the last decade, automotive assembly line workers in specific are one of several occupational groups who report disproportionately high levels of occupational stress (9, 10). Studies have shown that the industry dictates a high job demand and low job control (9, 11- 13). Heavy workload, in- frequent rest breaks, long working hours and shift work; hectic and routine tasks that have little in- herent meaning, do not utilize workers' skills, and provide little sense of control (14). The automo- tive sector is a key industry in the Malaysian econ- omy. Establishment of PROTON in 1985 and PERODUA in 1993 acted as catalysts to the de- velopment of the automotive sector which herald- ed a new phase for the Malaysian automotive sec- tor. Given the significant challenges facing the automotive industry, occupational stress becomes a pertinent psychosocial issue affecting the assem- bly line workers.

Hence in this study, we will show the effective- ness of a DBE for coping with stress in the auto- motive assembly line. This will be the first in- depth study on a single component, individual fo- cused stress management training as part of an EAP in an automotive assembly plant.

Materials and Methods

Study design

A quasi-experimental study was conducted in two automotive assembly plants in a district in Malay- sia over a period of 9 months, from January 2012 to September 2012. The study population was au- tomotive assembly line workers directly attached to the Body shop, Paint shop and Assembly sec- tion of the plant. Plant A was selected as the DBE group and Plant B the pamphlet group.

Inclusion criteria were all male workers directly attached to the production line and who had been working at the site for more than 1 year. Respond- ents with psychiatric illnesses with or without medication, having prior training or current use of relaxation therapy, working less than 1 year and respondents without consent were excluded.

Sample size obtained for the study was calculated via Open-Epi software for data analysis, in which minimal sample size estimated was 115 partici- pants in each group from a previous study (11). Attrition rate 10% was taken with confidence in- terval set at 95% and statistical significance de- clared at two-tailed P- value <0.05. Participation for the study was voluntary.

Study procedure

Recruitment process in both the plants was un- dertaken within the assembly line in which an "Anti-Stress Wellness Clinic" was set up next to the already existing in-house clinic in both plants. The clinic was opened daily from Monday to Sat- urday, according to the hours stipulated by the management. Recruitment was targeted during their breaks to avoid any disruption to the work process at the company.

The intervention in Plant A was DBE as part of an EAP. Respondents from Plant A were taught and given a training session on DBE by the pri- mary investigator who had himself undergone training with a certified trainer in relaxation tech- niques in the Department of Psychiatry and Reha- bilitation Medicine, University Malaya Medical Centre. …

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