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CAUT Bulletin Archives

October 2007

Stress a Major Problem

The overall level of stress in academic staff employed in Canadian universities is very high, according to a new study released this month by CAUT. The study’s findings are consistent with similar studies of stress among academic staff in the UK and Australia.

“Not surprisingly, the results of this study show that Canadian academics, like their colleagues in the UK and Australia, suffer from occupational stress that leads to decreased job satisfaction, reduced morale and increased ill health for academic staff,” said Vic Catano, one of the study’s lead researchers from Saint Mary’s University.

“The incidence of stress varied over different groups, but academics who are most stressed tend to be female, tenure track faculty trying to balance work and family commitments,” he said. “Our data suggest that faculty associations must take occupational stress into account when negotiating working conditions with their employers to reduce the strain on employees.”

While the study paints a general picture of academics satisfied with their jobs and committed
to their institutions emotionally, Catano said a significant minority of respondents reported relatively high occurrences of stress-related physical and psychological health symptoms and the use of stress-related medications over the past 12 month period.

The research was undertaken by Vic Catano and Lori Francis from Saint Mary’s University and Ted Haines, Haresh Kirpalani, Harry Shannon and Bernadette Stringer from McMaster University’s program in occupational health and environmental medicine, assisted by CAUT’s occupational health and safety officer Laura Lozanski. Staff from 56 Canadian universities were randomly selected for inclusion in the study.

The findings appear online at and are being distributed to all academic staff associations and universities across Canada. A similar study of stress and college workplaces is being undertaken this fall.