Subjective and objective demands on different types of differential stress inventory
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Purpose To validate the differential stress inventory (DSI) by evaluating the objective and subjective stress differences in the five DSI types in the occupational setting. Methods A total of 119 German participants working as medical assistants (n = 40) or in a bank (n = 79) were recruited. They completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory–General Survey, the DSI, and wore ECG measuring devices for 24 h to measure heart rate variability. The DSI was used to group people into one of five types according to how they perceived and coped with stress: normal, overstressed, stress-resistant, low stress/high coping, or high stress/high coping. Results The overstressed type had significantly more burnout symptoms than the other types. The high stress/high coping type also had more symptoms of emotional exhaustion and total burnout compared to the other types, while the low stress/high coping and the stress-resistant types generally had the lowest levels of burnout. There were no differences on the HRV parameters among the DSI types. Conclusion Categorising people into types like in the DSI can help make workers aware of unhealthy stress and coping patterns before they turn into more severe pathology. Proper application and targeted preventive measures can save the individual’s health and the company’s budget. While the DSI picked up on differences in burnout symptoms as a long-term consequence of stress, there is evidence that it cannot pick up on short-term stress or physical stress as measured by HRV from the 24 h recording.