Occupational Stress in Submariners: The Impact of Isolated and Confined Work on Psychological Well-Being

Ergonomics. 2010 Mar;53(3):305-13. doi: 10.1080/00140130903067763.

Abstract

This study aimed to identify work-related and personal factors associated with occupational stress in submariners. Work and well-being questionnaires were distributed to 219 male submariners (mean age 34 years), as part of a larger cohort study involving a stratified sample of 4951 Royal Navy (RN) personnel. The stress rate in submariners was 40%; significantly higher than the stress rate in the general RN, although once demographic factors were controlled for in a matched control sample, this difference was no longer significant. A summary model accounted for 49% of the variance in submariner stress, with key differences emerging between the occupational factors associated with stress in submariners and in the general RN. The longitudinal nature of this study permits stress in submariners to be monitored over 5 years, which will provide valuable insights into the chronicity of stress in this specialised occupational group. STATEMENT OF RELEVANCE: This paper contributes to the current literature on the negative impact of working in isolated conditions. It is demonstrated that occupational stress in submarines can be partially explained using current theories of stress in the workplace. However, the constraints of a restricted environment introduce additional factors which can also be associated with occupational stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Submarine Medicine*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult