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Working conditions, adverse events and mental health problems in a sample of 949 German teachers

  • Joachim Bauer
  • Thomas Unterbrink
  • Anna Hack
  • Ruth Pfeifer
  • Veronika Buhl-Grießhaber
  • Udo Müller
  • Helmut Wesche
  • Markus Frommhold
  • Reingard Seibt
  • Klaus Scheuch
  • Michael Wirsching
Short Communication

Abstract

Objectives:

The aim of this study was (1) to explore in detail the working load of teachers, (2) to analyse the extent of negative or threatening school-related events teachers are confronted with, and (3) to evaluate mental health strain by applying the general health questionnaire (GHQ).

Methods

A sample of 949 teachers in 10 grammar schools (German: Gymnasien) and 79 secondary modern schools (German: Hauptschulen) was investigated applying (1) a questionnaire covering different aspects of the occupational burden and threatening school-associated events and (2) the general health questionnaire (GHQ-12).

Results

Based on what teachers indicated in the questionnaire, full-time teachers work more than 51 h weekly. More than 42% of our sample indicated verbal insults, almost 7% deliberate damage of personal belongings, and 4.4% threat of violence by pupils during the past 12 months. When applying the GHQ-12, we found that 29.8% of the sample report significant mental health problems. With respect to school types, teachers in secondary modern schools indicated more of such problems, while no effects regarding age, gender, or full/part-time teaching were observed.

Conclusions

To be a teacher is a hard work and requires coping of considerable amount of adverse events. Based on the GHQ, nearly 30% of teachers suffer from significant mental health problems.

Keywords

Teacher Burn out Health conditions Occupational burden Violence 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, Berlin. We are grateful to Dr. Jürgen Kopske and Dr. Uwe Rose, Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz, who helped with respect to the design of the study and repeatedly gave valuable advice. We are also indebted to Siegfried Specker, Head of the “Abteilung Schule und Bildung” of the Regierungspräsidium Freiburg, for his valuable support.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joachim Bauer
    • 1
  • Thomas Unterbrink
    • 1
  • Anna Hack
    • 1
  • Ruth Pfeifer
    • 1
  • Veronika Buhl-Grießhaber
    • 4
  • Udo Müller
    • 2
  • Helmut Wesche
    • 2
  • Markus Frommhold
    • 4
  • Reingard Seibt
    • 3
  • Klaus Scheuch
    • 3
  • Michael Wirsching
    • 1
  1. 1.Abteilung für Psychosomatische Medizin und PsychotherapieUniversitätsklinikum FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Regierungspräsidium FreiburgAbteilung 7 – Schule und BildungFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Technische Universität DresdenInstitut und Poliklinik für Arbeits- und SozialmedizinDresdenGermany
  4. 4.Staatliches Seminar für Didaktik und Lehrerbildung (Gymnasien und Sonderschulen) FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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