Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Work-related stress indicator surveys in UK Ministry of Defence
  1. Sarah C Wattie1 and
  2. R S Bridger1,2
  1. 1 Human Factors Group, Institute of Naval Medicine, Gosport, Hampshire, UK
  2. 2 Human Factors Consultant, Lee-on-the-Solent, Hampshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sarah C Wattie, Institute of Naval Medicine, Gosport, PO12 2DL, Hampshire, United Kingdom; Sarah.Wattie100{at}


Introduction UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) policy and strategy recommend the use of a ‘Defence MODified’ version of the Health and Safety Executive Management Standards Indicator Tool to help managers identify risks of work-related stress among Defence personnel. The Defence MODified Tool (‘Stress Indicator Survey’) asks personnel to rate their perceptions of eight working conditions known to be significantly associated with work-related stress. MOD psychologists are developing a Defence norm group against which future survey scores can be compared. This article describes the use of the Stress Indicator Survey in MOD and gives an overview of findings from 2016 to 2018.

Method MOD psychologists conducted 27 Stress Indicator Surveys in 2016–2018. Data were collated from 6227 personnel for the Defence norm group and comparisons were conducted between Service personnel and MOD civil servants, and between Services (Royal Navy/Royal Marines (RN/RM), Army and Royal Air Force (RAF)).

Results Service personnel had significantly more favourable perceptions than MOD civil servants of most working conditions. The RN/RM had significantly more favourable perceptions than either the Army or the RAF of all working conditions. These findings indicate differential risks of work-related stress in different groups of personnel.

Discussion Possible explanations for the observed differences in risk of work-related stress are discussed, including the nature of military life and planned changes to Defence civilian headcount. Examples of managerial actions to improve working conditions based on individual survey findings are given.

  • psychology
  • military
  • health & safety

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. An Author note was added to clarify the play on word of "MODified".

  • Contributors SCW collated the data, conducted the analysis and wrote the article. RSB conceived the idea of the Defence norm group, was responsible for the adoption of the Defence MODified Tool into MOD policy and reviewed the article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Author note "MODified" is an intentional play on the fact that the tool was modified for use with MOD personnel. Thus, MOD + modified = MODified.