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Using the Health and Safety Executive Benchmark Framework to Investigate Wellbeing in the Prison Service: A Mixed-Methods Approach

By: , & Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This case study reports on the use of a mixed-method survey to investigate work-related stress within the UK prison service. This survey was conducted on behalf of a trade union representing workers within this sector. The research was informed by the Health and Safety Executive stress management framework, which utilises a benchmarking approach to identify psychosocial hazards that may be present in the workplace. This framework enabled the comparison of levels of perceived stressors in the workplace with targets set by the Health and Safety Executive. This framework was supplemented with additional variables, identified through a literature review and discussion with stakeholders. The survey revealed worrying challenges for employee wellbeing in the prison service. The present case study discusses the practical issues of conducting research in the sensitive topic of work-related stress in an occupational group that are not encouraged to discuss their working conditions externally, and how this informed the performance of our research. We discuss the process of conducting thematic content analysis with a large sample, and how we managed this from a practical perspective. In this case study, we also wish to encourage discussion of the moral obligations that we may have as researchers when we encounter work-related stress in participants, and we also highlight the importance of considering the impact that research may have.

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