Stress Management Interventions and Predictors of Long-term Health : Prospectively Controlled Studies on Long-term Pain Patients and a Healthy Sample from IT- and Media Companies

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This thesis reports on the effects of stress management on long-term pain patients and on a healthy sample from IT and media companies; two groups that are commonly exposed to high stress levels. Even if there are important differences between these two groups, there are similarities such as the necessity for effective stress management. Stress-related and musculoskeletal disorders are major public health issues in most industrialized countries and are expected to become increasingly common during the coming decades. The pathogenic plastic changes in the CNS and immune system caused by long-term stress pose severe burdens to individuals, organizations as well as society in general. Thus, stress management may be essential to maintain and improve long-term health and wellbeing and to proactively counteract stress-related ill-health.This thesis is based on four papers: Paper I assessed the effects of massage as compared to relaxation tapes in long-term pain patients. Paper II validated some of the Visual Analogue Scale questions that were to be used in paper III and IV. Paper III assessed the effects on mental and physical wellbeing and biological stress markers from a web-based stress management and health promotion tool. Paper IV aimed at mapping out predictors for trends (improvement vs. worsening) in self-rated health (SRH) over a period of one year.The overall results indicate that individually focused stress management interventions in long-term pain patients as well as on a healthy, working population may have short-term beneficial effects on psychological and physiological stress, health and wellbeing. On a long-term basis the beneficial changes seem to revert. In paper four, it is indicated that the stress management intervention is not a significant predictor of long-term changes in SRH. Rather, other factors such as health perception, sleep quality and sense of coherence predicted improvement in SRH over time.

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