Creating proactive boundary awareness - Observations and feedback on lowerlevel health care managers’ time commitments and stress

Sammanfattning: Aim. The aim of this thesis was to deepen the knowledge concerning health care managers’ everyday work experiences and their handling of stress and balance.Background. Health care managers’ work is characterized by daily hassles, conflicting perspectives, and unclear boundary setting. They could therefore use support in boundary and stress management.Methods. A qualitatively driven mixed methods approach was used. Qualitative interviews, focus groups and workplace observations were used for data collection in Study I. Physiological stress indicators, stress self-assessments, workplace observations and interviewing were used in Study II. Analyses were mainly carried out on the interview data, using grounded theory methodology (Study I) and conventional content analysis (Study II).Results. Paper I shows that a first step in managers’ boundary setting is to recognize areas at work with conflicting expectations and inexhaustible needs. Strategies can then be formed through proactive, continuous negotiating of their time commitments. These strategies, termed ‘boundary approaches’, are more or less strict regarding the boundary setting at work. Paper II shows that nonnormative, interactive feedback sessions could encourage understanding and meaningfulness of previous stress experiences through a two-step appraisal process. In the first appraisal in the study, feedback was spontaneously reacted on, while in phase two it was made sensible and given meaning. However, during the sessions, some obstacles appeared to managers’ learning about their stress, preventing a second appraisal of the feedback.Conclusions. Awareness and continuous negotiation regarding boundary dilemmas can be effective as a proactive stress management tool among managers. Further, non-normative feedback on stress indicators may initiate key 3 processes of sensemaking which can aid managers’ stress management by increasing awareness and supporting learning about their stress. Proactive boundary awareness is a concept leading to better understanding of lower-level managers’ management of their time commitments and stress, which can be supported by continuous reflection, feedback situations and a supportive context.

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