Changes in stress and coping from a randomized controlled trial of a three-month stress management intervention
Objectives To investigate whether a group-based stress management intervention, based on principles from cognitive behaviour therapy, can reduce stress and alter coping strategies in an occupationally diverse population with extensive symptoms of work-related stress.
Methods Using a randomized wait list control design, 102 participants were divided into two groups: intervention and wait list control (WLC). The intervention was a three-month group-based stress management program. Outcomes measures were the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10, range 0–40 points) and five dimensions from the Brief COPE questionnaire (range 2–8 points) at baseline and three-, six- and nine-months follow-up. Data were analyzed with a univariate analysis of variance.
Results On the PSS-10 from baseline to three months, the intervention group changed -6.45 (95% CI -8.25–-4.64) points, compared to -1.12 (95% CI -2.94–0.70) points in the WLC group. The between-groups difference was -5.32 (95% CI -7.89–-2.76) points, equalling a standardized mean difference of -0.84 (95% CI -1.27–-0.42) favouring the intervention. One coping dimension, positive reframing, differed between the two groups. Here the intervention group changed -0.86 (95% CI -1.25–-0.48) points from baseline to three months, compared to -0.18 (-0.58–0.22) points in the WLC-group. We found a between-groups difference of -0.67 (95% CI -1.24–-0.11) points, equalling a standardized mean difference of -0.48 (95% CI -0.89–-0.07) favouring the intervention. The gains achieved during treatment were maintained when followed up three months later.
Conclusions Treatment is superior to the control condition in positively affecting perceived stress and positive reframing. When followed up, the gains achieved are maintained.