In examining the sources of work stress and their effects on the productivity of forensic scientists in public and private laboratories, this study conducted a qualitative analysis of survey data collected from 899 such forensic scientists working at the local, State, and Federal levels across the United States.
The study sample reported moderate levels of work-related stress and moderate to high levels of job satisfaction. These findings are similar to job stress and satisfaction reported among law enforcement and correctional officers. There were no significant differences in work stress levels and job satisfaction between sworn and unsworn scientists or among the scientific disciplines. Stress levels reported were primarily influenced by the number of hours worked each week, a lack of supervisory support, and role conflicts that make it difficult to perform their jobs. Females reported higher rates of stress, suggesting there may be differences in occupational responses between sexes. Respondents used a variety of mechanisms outside of work to cope with job-related stress, but there was minimal involvement in negative or harmful coping strategies. Most respondents reported they were satisfied with the ergonomic and environmental conditions of their workspaces. The report advises that laboratory managers can directly mitigate stressful experiences of laboratory scientists by setting policies that increase flexible scheduling, distribute overtime equally, promote communication with supervisors, and improve the management of laboratory interactions with court staff and prosecutors. 16 tables, 119 references, and appended questionnaires
Report (Grant Sponsored)
Date Published: March 1, 2014