Advertisement

Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 970–983 | Cite as

Stress in crisis managers: evidence from self-report and psychophysiological assessments

  • A. JankaEmail author
  • C. Adler
  • L. Fischer
  • P. Perakakis
  • P. Guerra
  • S. Duschek
Article

Abstract

Directing disaster operations represents a major professional challenge. Despite its importance to health and professional performance, research on stress in crisis management remains scarce. The present study aimed to investigate self-reported stress and psychophysiological stress responses in crisis managers. For this purpose, 30 crisis managers were compared with 30 managers from other disciplines, in terms of self-reported stress, health status and psychophysiological reactivity to crisis-related and non-specific visual and acoustic aversive stimuli and cognitive challenge. Crisis managers reported lower stress levels, a more positive strain-recuperation-balance, greater social resources, reduced physical symptoms, as well as more physical exercise and less alcohol consumption. They exhibited diminished electrodermal and heart rate responses to crisis-related and non-specific stressors. The results indicate reduced stress and physical complaints, diminished psychophysiological stress reactivity, and a healthier life-style in crisis managers. Improved stress resistance may limit vulnerability to stress-related performance decline and facilitate preparedness for major incidents.

Keywords

Crisis management Stress Major incident Electrodermal activity Heart rate variability 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The study was supported by the European Commission (project PsyCris, FP7-SEC-2012-1).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

A. Janka, C. Adler, L. Fischer, P. Perakakis, P. Guerra and S. Duschek declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

References

  1. Alexander, D. A., & Klein, S. (2001). Ambulance personnel and critical incidents: Impact of accident and emergency work on mental health and emotional well-being. British Journal of Psychiatry, 178, 76–81. doi: 10.1192/bjp.178.1.76 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Almoznino-Sarafian, D., Sarafian, G., Zyssman, I., Shteinshnaider, M., Tzur, I., Kaplan, B. Z., et al. (2009). Application of HRV-CD for estimation of life expectancy in various clinical disorders. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 20, 779–783. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2009.08.006 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. American College of Sports Medicine. (2005). ACSM´s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.Google Scholar
  4. Beaton, R., Murphy, S., & Pike, K. (1996). Work and nonwork stressors, negative affective states, and pain complaints among firefighters and paramedics. International Journal of Stress Management, 3, 223–237. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X00040218 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennett, P., Williams, Y., Page, N., Hood, K., & Woollard, M. (2004). Levels of mental health problems among UK emergency ambulance workers. Emergency Medicine Journal, 21, 235–236. doi: 10.1136/emj.2003.005645 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Berger, W., Coutinho, E. S. F., Figueira, I., Marques-Portella, C., Luz, M. P., Neylan, T. C., et al. (2012). Rescuers at risk: A systematic review and meta-regression analysis of the worldwide current prevalence and correlates of PTSD in rescue workers. Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47, 1001–1011. doi: 10.1007/s00127-011-0408-2 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Berntson, G. G., Bigger, J. T, Jr, Eckberg, D. L., Grossman, P., Kaufmann, P. G., Malik, M., et al. (1997). Heart rate variability: Origins, methods, and interpretive caveats. Psychophysiology, 34, 623–648. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1997.tb02140.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Berntson, G. G., Quigley, K. S., & Lozano, D. (2007). Cardiovascular psychophysiology. In J. T. Cacioppo, L. G. Tassinary, & G. G. Berntson (Eds.), Handbook of psychophysiology (pp. 182–210). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bonanno, G. A., Papa, A., O’Neil, K., Westphal, M., & Coifman, K. (2004). The importance of being flexible: The ability to enhance and suppress emotional expression predicts long-term adjustment. Psychological Science, 15, 482–487. doi: 10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00705.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (1994). Measuring emotion: The self-assessment manikin and the semantic differential. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 25, 49–59. doi: 10.1016/0005-7916(94)90063-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (2007a). The international affective digitized sounds (2nd ed; IADS-2): Affective ratings of sounds and instruction manual. Technical report B-3. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.Google Scholar
  12. Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (2007b). Emotion and Motivation. In J. T. Cacioppo, L. G. Tassinary, & G. G. Berntson (Eds.), Handbook of psychophysiology (pp. 581–607). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brannon, L., & Feist, J. (2007). Health psychology—An introduction to behavior and health. United States: Thomson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  14. Brown, J., Mulhern, G., & Joseph, S. (2002). Incident-related stressors, locus of control, coping, and psychological distress among firefighters in Northern Ireland. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 15, 161–168. doi: 10.1023/A:1014816309959 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Bylsma, L. M., Salomon, K., Taylor-Clift, A., Morris, B. H., & Rottenberg, J. (2013). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia reactivity in current and remitted major depressive disorder. Psychosomatic Medicine, 76, 66–73. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000019 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Critical-Response-in-Security-and-Safety-Emergencies. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.2020horizon.com/CRISYS-Critical-Response-in-Security-and-Safety-Emergencies%28CRISYS%29-s5246.html
  17. Cukor, J., Wyka, K., Mello, B., Olden, M., Jayasinghe, N., Roberts, J., et al. (2011). The longitudinal course of PTSD among disaster workers deployed to the World Trade Center following the attacks of September 11th. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24, 506–514. doi: 10.1002/jts.20672 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Dawson, M. E., Schell, A. M., & Filion, D. L. (2007). The electrodermal system. In J. T. Cacioppo, L. G. Tassinary, & G. G. Berntson (Eds.), Handbook of psychophysiology (pp. 159–181). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Dedovic, K., Renwick, R., Mahani, N. K., Engert, V., Lupien, S. J., & Pruessner, J. N. (2005). The Montreal Imaging Stress Task: Using functional imaging to investigate the effect of perceiving and processing psychosocial stress in the human brain. Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, 30, 319–325.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Dienstbier, R. A. (1989). Arousal and physiological toughness: Implications for mental and physical health. Clinical Psychology Reviews, 96, 84–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Duschek, S., Muckenthaler, M., & Reyes del Paso, G. A. (2009). Relationships between features of cardiovascular control and cognitive performance. Biological Psychology, 81, 110–117. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2009.03.003 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Duschek, S., Werner, N., Kapan, N., & Reyes del Paso, G. A. (2008). Patterns of cerebral blood flow and systemic hemodynamics during arithmetic processing. Journal of Psychophysiology, 22, 81–90. doi: 10.1027/0269-8803.22.2.81 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dylewicz, P., Borowitz-Bienkowska, S., Deskur-Smielecka, E., Kocur, P., Przywarska, I., & Wilk, M. (2005). Value of exercise capacity and physical activity in the prevention of cardiac diseases—brief review of the current literature. Journal of Public Health, 13, 313–317. doi: 10.1007/s10389-005-0127-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Essex, B., & Scott, L. B. (2008). Chronic stress and associated coping strategies among volunteer EMS personnel. Prehospital Emergency Care, 12, 69–75. doi: 10.1080/10903120701707955 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Fliege, H., Rose, M., Arck, P., Levenstein, S., & Klapp, B. F. (2001). Validierung des “Perceived Stress Questionnaire”(PSQ) an einer deutschen Stichprobe. Diagnostica, 47, 142–152. doi: 10.1026//0012-1924.47.3.142 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Forcier, K., Stroud, L. R., Papandonatos, G. D., Hitsman, B., Reiches, M., Krishnamoorthy, J., & Niaura, R. (2006). Links between physical fitness and cardiovascular reactivity and recovery to psychological stressors: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology, 25, 723–739. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.25.6.723 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Guha-Sapir, D., Vos, F., Below, R., & Ponserre, S. (2012). Annual disaster statistical review 2011: The numbers and trends. Brussels: CRED.Google Scholar
  28. Hamer, M., & Steptoe, A. (2007). Association between physical fitness, parasympathetic control, and proinflammatory responses to mental stress. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 660–666. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e318148c4c0 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Harris, W. C., Hancock, P. A., & Harris, S. C. (2005). Information processing changes following extended stress. Military Psychology, 17, 115–128. doi: 10.1207/s15327876mp1702_4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hoffmann, B. M., Babyak, M. A., Craighead, W. E., Sherwood, A., Doraiswami, P. M., Coons, J., & Blumenthal, J. A. (2011). Exercise and pharmacotherapy in patients with major depression: One-year follow-up of the SMILE study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 73, 127–133. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31820433a5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kalemoglu, M., & Keskin, O. (2006). Burnout syndrome at the emergency service. Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine, 14, 37–40.Google Scholar
  32. Kallus, K. (1995). Der Erholungs-Belastungs-Fragebogen (EBF). Frankfurt a. M.: Swets & Zeitlinger.Google Scholar
  33. Karasek, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude and mental strain: Implications for job design. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 285–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kashdan, T. B., & Rottenberg, J. (2010). Psychological flexibility as a fundamental aspect of health. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 865–878. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.001 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Klaperski, S., von Dawans, B., Heinrichs, M., & Fuchs, R. (2014). Effects of a 12-week endurance training program on the physiological response to psychosocial stress in men: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 37, 1118–1133.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (1997). International Affective Picture System (IAPS): Technical manual and affective ratings. NIMH Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention.Google Scholar
  37. LeBlanc, V. R. (2009). The effects of acute stress on performance: Implications for health professions education. Academic Medicine, 84, S25–S33. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181b37b8f CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. LeBlanc, V. R., MacDonald, R. D., McArthur, B., King, K., & Lepine, T. (2005). Paramedic performance in calculating drug dosages following stressful scenarios in a human patient simulator. Prehospital Emergency Care, 9, 439–444. doi: 10.1080/10903120500255255 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. LeBlanc, V. R., Regehr, C., Birze, A., King, K., Scott, A. K., MacDonald, R., & Tavares, W. (2011). The association between posttraumatic stress, coping, and acute stress responses in paramedics. Traumatology, 17, 10–16. doi: 10.1177/1534765611429078 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. LeBlanc, V. R., Regehr, C., Tavares, W., Scott, A. K., MacDonald, R., & King, K. (2012). The impact of stress on paramedic performance during simulated critical events. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 27, 369–374. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X12001021 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Levenstein, S., Prantera, C., Varvo, V., Scribano, M. L., Berto, E., Luzi, C., & Andreoli, A. (1993). Development of the Perceived Stress Questionnaire: A new tool for psychosomatic research. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 37, 19–32. doi: 10.1016/0022-3999(93)90120-5 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Licht, C. M., De Geus, E. J., Van Dyck, R., & Penninx, B. W. (2009). Association between anxiety disorders and heart rate variability in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 508–518. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181a292a6 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Marmot, M. G., Smith, G. D., Stansfeld, S., Patel, C., North, F., Head, J., et al. (1991). Health inequalities among British civil servants: The Whitehall II study. Lancet, 337, 1387–1393. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(91)93068-K CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Masi, C. M., Hawkley, L. C., Rickett, E. M., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2007). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia and diseases of aging: Obesity, diabetes mellitus, and hypertension. Biological Psychology, 74, 212–223. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.07.006 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. McClelland, D. (2000). Human motivation. Cambridge: University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Munich Re. (2014). 2013 Natural catastrophe year in review. In D. Guha-Sapir, F. Vos, R. Below, & S. Ponserre (Eds.), Annual disaster statistical review 2011: The numbers and trends. Brussels: CRED. https://www.munichre.com/touch/site/touchnatralhaards/get/documents_E2138584162/mr/assetpool.shared/Documents/5_Touch/Natural%20Hazards/NatCatNews/2013-natural-catastrophe-year-in-review-en.pdf
  47. Niskanen, J. P., Tarvainen, M. P., Ranta-aho, P. O., & Karjalainen, P. A. (2004). Software for advanced HRV analysis. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine, 76, 73–81. doi: 10.1016/j.cmpb.2004.03.004 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Peltola, M., Tulppo, M. P., Kiviniemi, A., Hautala, A. J., Seppänen, T., Barthel, P., et al. (2008). Respiratory sinus arrhythmia as a predictor of sudden cardiac death after myocardial infarction. American Heart Association, 40, 376–382.Google Scholar
  49. Penwell, L. M., & Larkin, K. T. (2010). Social support and risk for cardiovascular disease and cancer: A qualitative review examining the role of inflammatory processes. Health Psychology Review, 4, 42–55. doi: 10.1080/17437190903427546 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Perakakis, P., Joffily, M., Taylor, M., Guerra, P., & Vila, J. (2010). KARDIA: A Matlab software for the analysis of cardiac interbeat intervals. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine, 98, 83–89. doi: 10.1016/j.cmpb.2009.10.002 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Reed, I., & Buck, S. (2009). The effect of regular aerobic exercise on positive-activated affect: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10, 581–594. doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2009.05.009 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Reinhard, F., & Maercker, A. (2004). Sekundäre Traumatisierung, Posttraumatische Belastungsstörung, Burnout und Soziale Unterstützung bei medizinischem Rettungspersonal. Zeitschrift für Medizinische Psychologie, 13, 29–36.Google Scholar
  53. Reyes del Paso, G. A., Garrido, S., Pulgar, A., Martín-Vázquez, M., & Duschek, S. (2010). Aberrances in autonomic cardiovascular regulation in fibromyalgia syndrome and their relevance for clinical pain reports. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72, 462–470. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181da91f1 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. Reyes del Paso, G. A., Langewitz, W., Mulder, L. J. M., van Roon, A., & Duschek, S. (2013). The utility of low frequency heart rate variability as an index of sympathetic cardiac tone: A review with emphasis on a re-analysis of previous studies. Psychophysiology, 50, 477–487. doi: 10.1111/psyp.12027 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Ritchie, E. C., Watson, P. J., & Friedmann, M. J. (2006). Interventions following mass violence and disasters. Strategies for mental health practice. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  56. Rozanski, A., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2005). Psychologic functioning and physical health: A paradigm of flexibility. Psychosomatic Medicine, 67, S47–S53. doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000164253.69550.49 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Saynaeve, G. J. R. (2001). Psycho-Social Support in situations of mass emergency: A European Policy Paper concerning different aspects of psychosocial support and social accompaniment for people involved in major accidents and disasters. Brussels: Ministry of Public Health.Google Scholar
  58. Schnall, P. J., Landsbergis, P. A., & Baker, D. (1994). Job strain and cardiovascular disease. Annual Review of Public Health, 15, 381–411. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pu.15.050194.002121 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  59. Smith, A. M., Loving, T. J., Crockett, E. E., & Campbell, L. (2009). What’s closeness got to do with it? Men’s and women’s cortisol responses when providing and receiving support. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 843–851. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181b492e6 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Svensson, E., Angelborg-Thanderz, M., & Sjöberg, L. (1993). Mission challenge, mental workload and performance in military aviation. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 64, 985–991.Google Scholar
  61. Tan, G., Dao, T. K., Farmer, L., Sutherland, R. J., & Gervitz, R. (2011). Heart rate variability (HRV) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A pilot study. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 36, 27–35. doi: 10.1007/s10484-010-9141-y CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology. (1996). Heart rate variability: Standards of measurement, physiological interpretation and clinical use. Circulation: Heart Failure, 93, 1043–1065.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Taylor, S. E. (2010). Social support: A review. In H. S. Friedman (Ed.), Oxford handbook of health psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  64. Uchino, B. N., Cacioppo, J. T., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (1996). The relationship between social support and physiological processes: A review with emphasis on underlying mechanisms and implications for health. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 488–531.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. van der Ploeg, E., & Kleber, R. (2003). Acute and chronic job stressors among ambulance personnel: Predictors of health symptoms. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60, i40–i46. doi: 10.1136/oem.60.suppl_1.i40 PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. von Zerssen, D., & Petermann, F. (2011). Beschwerden-Liste—Revidierte Fassung (BL-R). Manual. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Google Scholar
  67. Zuckerman, M. (1990). The psychophysiology of sensation seeking. Journal of Personality, 58, 313–341.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMIT - University for Health Sciences Medical Informatics and TechnologyHall in TirolAustria
  2. 2.Ludwig-Maximilians University MunichMunichGermany
  3. 3.University of GranadaGranadaSpain

Personalised recommendations