Background: Submariners are an occupational group within the Royal Navy (RN) who work in isolated and extreme conditions. This preliminary study forms part of a longitudinal study of occupational stress in the RN.
Aims: To compare stress prevalence in submariners with matched controls and to identify predictors of occupational stress in submariners over a 2 year follow-up period.
Methods: Participants completed a Work and Well-Being Questionnaire to measure occupational stressors and the General Health Questionnaire-12 (GHQ-12) to measure stress at time point 1, and a follow-up GHQ-12 2 years later. Demographically matched controls from the surface fleet of the RN were identified for each submariner. Regression models were developed for submariners and their controls to predict future stress at time point 2 using psychosocial predictors from time point 1.
Results: Participants comprised 144 submariners and 144 general service controls. There were no differences between submariners and their surface fleet counterparts in the prevalence of occupational stress. Nevertheless, different predictors for the development of stress were found between the two groups. For submariners, over-commitment and rank were the main predictors; whereas for controls, the predictors were length of service, body mass index and physical work.
Conclusions: Submariners were not more likely to suffer from occupational stress than surface fleet controls in the RN. However, the psychosocial predictors of stress were significantly different for this RN specialist group, demonstrating the importance of developing individual models of stress for different occupational groups.