Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Challenges and Successes in Implementing Web-Based Occupational Stress Prevention in Small Enterprises in Germany

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Micro- and small-sized enterprises (MSEs) often struggle with work-related stress management due to limited resources and knowledge. This study assesses the effectiveness of “System P,” a web-based platform designed for occupational stress prevention, and investigates its implementation in MSEs across Germany. Despite its potential, System P faced significant challenges in adoption and usage, revealing critical insights into the barriers and facilitators of web-based stress management interventions.

Structural and behavioral interventions are recognized as effective in mitigating work-related stress among employees. However, MSEs have historically underutilized these methods due to a lack of resources and knowledge. Simplified web-based alternatives, such as System P, offer a potential solution for occupational stress prevention. This study aims to evaluate the implementation and success of System P and to identify barriers to its uptake in MSEs in Germany.

Study Approach and Methodology

The study employs a mixed-methods approach, consisting of a quantitative part I and a qualitative part II. Part I uses a pre-post design with two measurements six months apart, involving 98 participants. It examines eight process-related outcomes including adoption, reach, penetration, fidelity/dose, and costs. Part II comprises 12 semi-structured interviews with managers and stakeholders, focusing on acceptability, appropriateness, and feasibility.

Key Findings

The quantitative results reveal significant shortcomings in the implementation process. Despite extensive marketing efforts, less than 1% of contacted MSEs responded to the System P offer. Out of 40 registered MSEs, only 24 adopted the system, and within these, a mere 15% of employees engaged with it. Furthermore, only 11 MSEs initiated a psychosocial risk assessment (PRA), and none completed it. The stress-management training (SMT) was started by 25 users and completed by just 8.

The qualitative insights indicate that while System P was generally well-received and considered appropriate for MSEs, its feasibility results were mixed. Users and stakeholders expressed positive acceptance, but indirect costs, such as the time required for engagement, posed significant barriers.

Concrete Insights for Implementation

– Targeted marketing strategies are essential to improve the reach and adoption of web-based stress prevention platforms among MSEs.
– Simplifying engagement processes and reducing indirect costs can enhance the feasibility and usage of such interventions.
– Prior experience with occupational stress prevention and a strong psychosocial safety climate within organizations facilitate successful implementation.
– Increased external support and resources may be necessary for MSEs to effectively manage stress prevention online.

In conclusion, although System P shows promise as a useful and appropriate tool for stress prevention in MSEs, its implementation was only partially successful. Enhancing external support and addressing perceived indirect costs could improve future uptake and effectiveness.

Original Article: BMC Public Health. 2024 Jun 17;24(1):1618. doi: 10.1186/s12889-024-19102-8.

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