Introduction to the preparation of manuals on occupational stress

This introduction to the preparation of manuals on stress follows the same presentation sequence adopted by most manuals. However, before considering the contents of the manuals, a series of preliminary decisions need to be taken which are of paramount importance for the quality and effectiveness of the message to be delivered. These include: the choice of the approach to be adopted by the manual; and the identification of targets. Consideration is then given to the actual content of the manual.

The many manuals which have been produced on the prevention of occupational stress address the subject in different ways, covering a wide range of contents, target groups and styles of presentation. For instance, some publications are very comprehensive and discuss, in detail, various methods used to deal with stress at different levels, while others focus on specific aspects, such as a strategy for stress reduction. Some are directed at a particular category of workers and others at workers in general, while some specifically address trainers. Some documents are written in an academic or scholarly style, while others are more practically oriented and use more concrete, everyday language.

Despite all these differences, manuals on stress usually tackle the subject in the following sequence. First of all, the signs and symptoms of stress are analysed, and indications are provided on its magnitude and cost, with a view to helping readers to recognize the existence of stress and the need for action. Secondly, the causes of stress or stressors are reviewed, in order to facilitate their identification, and the consequences of stress are assessed. Thirdly, after some understanding about stress has been grasped, action to eliminate or relieve stress is discussed.