How contextual constraints shape mid-career high school teachers’ stress management and use of digital support tools: A qualitative study. (Preprint)

in Working/Discussion Paper


Persistent psychosocial stress is endemic in the modern workplace, including amongst mid-career high school (secondary comprehensive) teachers in England. Understanding contextual influences on teachers' self-management of stress along with their use of digital health technologies could give important insight into creating more usable and accessible stress support interventions.

                    The aim of the study was to investigate constraints on stress management and prevention among teachers in the school environment and how this shapes use of digitally enabled stress management tools.

                    Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 teachers from southern England. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.

                    Teachers were unanimous in their recognition of workplace stress, describing physical (such as isolation and scheduling) and cultural (such as stigma and individualism) aspects of the workplace context which influence their ability to manage stress. Twelve of the participants engaged with technology to self-manage their physical or psychological wellbeing, with consumer wearables used by more than half, but online or smartphone apps were rarely accessed in school. Digital wellbeing interventions recommended by school leaders could potentially be trusted and adopted.

                    Findings from this study bring together both important cultural and physical contextual constraints for mid-career high school teachers' ability to manage workplace stress. It highlights correlates of stress and offers original insight into how digital health interventions are currently being used to help with stress, both within and outside high schools. The findings add another step towards designing tailored digital stress support for teachers.