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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Lena Gloria Caesar
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Interdisciplinary Health Studies
Title: Work Stress, Non-Work Stress and Mental Health among School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists: Effects of Social Support
Dr. Nickola Nelson, Chair
Dr. Paula Kohler
Dr. Karen Horneffer-Ginter
Dr. Jerome Thayer
Dr. David Williams
Date: Monday, June 4, 2007 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
College of Health and Human Services, Room 2010
This study utilized secondary data from the Work and Well-being of SLPs survey (Caesar, 2004) to examine possible sources (predictors) of work stress and psychological distress of 409 speech-language pathologists (SLPs) employed in public school settings in the state of Michigan. This study also investigated the relationship of work-related and non-work-related stress to the mental health status of SLPs and sought to determine the mediating and/or moderating effects of varied types of social support on the mental health of respondents. Data analysis was done in three stages. First, each dependent and independent variable was described statistically. Secondly, correlation analyses were computed between selected independent and dependent variables. Thirdly, regression models were used to (a) analyze the effects of demographic, caseload, work-related factors on work stress and mental health; and (b) to examine the mediating and moderating effects of social support on the relationship between work stress and mental health. Results of this study document that school-based SLPs in the state of Michigan—despite student and employment-related challenges—report moderately low levels of work stress and psychological distress. This study also showed that respondents’ caseload issues were not consistently related to most of the measures of work stress. Although the majority of respondents indicated experiencing a high degree of decision latitude in their work, an equal percentage (96%) also described their work as demanding—with high caseload size and extra time spent on paperwork being significant predictors of increased work stress. Extra time spent on paperwork was the strongest predictor of both work stress and psychological distress among respondents. Despite perceptions of high job demands, the majority of respondents (95%) indicated that they were either “somewhat” or “highly” satisfied with their jobs. Although the majority of respondents reported having access to at least one type of social support in their work environment, emotional support from family and friends was more strongly correlated with fewer symptoms of psychological distress than the majority of work-support sources investigated. Implications regarding the impact of personnel and organizational factors on the critical shortage of school-based speech-language pathologists are discussed.