Understanding work related stress and substance use among cemetery workers of the eThekwini Municipality.
Mzamo, Sibusisiwe Cordelia.
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An exploratory study was conducted to understand work related stress and substance use among the cemetery workers of the Ethekwini Municipality Anecdotal evidence suggested that in order to cope with the work related stress, this group of workers used substances like dagga and alcohol to cope with the stressors. A qualitative study was done in which focus group discussions were used to understand the cemetery workers' stressors and coping strategies with particular interest in the use of substances. A purposive sampling technique was used and six cemeteries out of twelve within the Ethekwini Municipality were chosen. All the workers in these cemeteries performed similar duties. The participants were on permanent contracts and were mainly adult males, with only a few female workers. They were from Indian and African ancestry. Thematic content analysis was used to explore their stressors and coping strategies. The cemetery workers' stress revolved around the intense and strenuous nature of their work with special reference to the exhumation of graves. Organisational structures and management practices that allowed for inadequate communication and little participation in the making of decisions, impacted negatively on their job satisfaction. The stresses were managed by a general acceptance of their working conditions, and the use of substances like dagga and alcohol during working hours. The data suggested that the stressors would be lessened if attention is paid to the improvement of communication between the participants and management, and to allow for a more participatory decision making, regarding aspects that directly influenced their daily activities. Proper induction and selection procedures are needed, and health promotion activities are needed on the dangers of substance use and healthy stress management strategies.
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