Occupational health problems for teachers from primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong


Student thesis: Master's Thesis

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  • Yin Ling CHONG


Awarding Institution
Award date14 Jul 2006


Although many researches can be found on teaching profession of different countries, most of them mainly addressed teacher’s stress problems. It seems that the global public focuses on stress problem but passes over the prevalence of somatic health problems in the teaching profession. This study is the first single study in Hong Kong that comprehensively covers not only the mental health and stress problems, but also the somatic health problems as well as the related working days lost in teaching profession. A questionnaire was designed and the required data were collected via a questionnaire survey. It was a large-scale survey with 6,000 copies of questionnaires sent out and the number of usable questionnaires returned by the primary or secondary school teachers was 1,710. After collating and analyzing the collected statistics, a comprehensive report of occupational health problems, including work-related mental and physical problems as well as occupational stress problems for the teaching profession of Hong Kong was compiled. Research results indicated that the prevalence of work-related subjective health complaints was very high that 99.5% (n = 1,702) of respondents suffered at least one type of complaint on the total Subjective Health Complaint Scale with 39 items during the preceding 30 days. The ten most frequently reported work-related health complaints among the teachers were tiredness, eyestrain, anxiety, voice disorder, sleep problems, shoulder pain, neck pain, headache, sadness/depression, and low back pain. Both the prevalence (92.4%) and intensity (mean: 2.43) of work-related tiredness were also very high. The teachers seem to be exhausted and fatigued with their work. They suffered an average duration of seven days or longer in 38 out of 39 single health complaints. It reflects that they suffered from chronic health problems, especially for tiredness, varicose veins of lower limbs, eyestrain, contact dermatitis, anxiety, sleep problems, shoulder pain, and voice disorder. Comparing with one year and five years ago, 91.6% and 97.3% of the responding teachers reported an increase of perceived stress level, respectively. Heavy workload and time pressure, education reforms, external school review, pursuing further education, and managing students' behaviour and learning were the most frequently reported sources of work stress. The four most frequently reported stress management activities were sleeping, talking to neighbors and friends, self-relaxing, and watching television, while the least frequently reported activity was doing more exercises or sports. About one third (34.0%) of the respondents did not take any sick leave in the last twelve months. The average annual work days lost is estimated to be 4.33, 5.29 and 3.24 days for the whole sample of 1,710 teachers, primary school teachers and secondary school teachers, respectively. The total economic loss of working days is worth around $247 millions annually, excluding the costs incurred for additional administration work, substitute teachers, and therapy.

    Research areas

  • China, Health and hygiene, Hong Kong, Industrial hygiene, Teachers