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


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.


Crisis management Stress Major incident Electrodermal activity Heart rate variability 



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.


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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

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