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Developing Mahi Oranga : a culturally responsive measure of Māori occupational stress and wellbeing : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Industrial/Organisational Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Occupational stress is a growing problem worldwide, resulting in poor health for individuals, reduced organisational performance, and financial costs to society because of increases in health service costs. Despite occupational stress research spanning 30 years, none has yet examined whether indigenous groups such as Māori experience it differently to their mainstream counterparts. Neither has anyone critiqued the appropriateness of using Western developed occupational stress assessments with Māori. Using a Māori-centred approach, this research aimed to identify whether Māori health workers in Aotearoa New Zealand experience occupational stress differently, and then to develop a culturally responsive, reliable and valid psychometric assessment (called Mahi Oranga).
Consultation with thirteen Māori health workers investigated the need for this research, and gained feedback and support for developing Mahi Oranga. Following consultation Mahi Oranga was developed, informed by Māori models of health and wellbeing, feedback from consultation, the limited literature related to Māori experiences of occupational stress, mainstream occupational stress literature and Western developed measures of occupational stress. Mahi Oranga was designed to measure workplace demands (cultural safety, organisational constraints, role overload and interpersonal conflict), coping strategies (including wairua/spiritual, hinengaro/psychological, tinana/physical and whānau/extended family components), and strain outcomes (for the individual and the organisation). Once developed, Mahi Oranga was made available online to Māori health workers, receiving 130 responses. Statistical analyses included exploratory factor analysis and bivariate correlations. Respondents represented urban and rural work settings, plus kaupapa Māori and mainstream work environments. Thematic analysis was conducted on qualitative responses.
Organisational strain was higher in urban rather than rural work settings. Cultural safety, organisational constraints, role overload and interpersonal conflict were all higher in kaupapa Māori rather than mainstream work environments. Coping strategies were lower in mainstream rather than kaupapa Māori work environments. Thematic analysis revealed occupational stress experiences related to organisational constraints, role overload and
interpersonal conflict were common to all staff, but that experiences of institutional racism and a lack of cultural safety were unique to Māori.
Limitations included the small sample size, and implications for practice include the need to increase awareness of these issues and knowledge of how to address them.