Therapist effects in workplace stress management interventions: A systematic review

by MJ Thomas

Institution: University of Tasmania
Year: 2015
Keywords: process evaluation; systematic review; workplace stress management interventions; therapeutic alliance
Record ID: 1045927
Full text PDF: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/22412/1/Whole-Thomas%20thesis.pdf


This systematic review sought to report on the level and quality of process evaluation in workplace stress management interventions (SMIs) for the period 2004 – 2013. The second aim was to determine the extent to which ‘therapist variables’ have been adequately considered for their effect on implementation and outcome in workplace SMIs. The inclusion criteria comprised empirical studies: (a) published in the English language, (b) focused on analysis of a workplace SMI aimed at changing employee’s response to job stress and (c) involving an SMI that includes face to face contact between the employee and the therapist/program provider. Forty-four studies were included in the analysis and of these around half evaluated between three and five components of process evaluation. Reporting about fidelity, dose delivered and implementation components, was more challenging for researchers. Around 50% of studies linked a component of process evaluation to outcome but only six studies provided a quantitative link. The majority of studies involved an external therapist, most commonly a psychologist, and most studies provided some information about therapist recruitment and background training. However, therapist demographic information, information about therapist adherence to protocol and therapeutic alliance was less often reported. It is encouraging to observe that several authors did consider the impact of therapist variables in their research and linked therapist variable to outcomes. It is recommended that future research continue to focus on the systematic planning, monitoring and assessment of process components in programme implementation, with the specific aim of identifying the process predictors of SMI outcomes. The therapist is hypothesised to be an essential component of an SMI and therefore researchers are encouraged to include therapist variables in their process evaluation framework.