Stress, Anxiety, and the Air Traffic Control Specialist: Some Conclusions from a Decade of Research,
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION WASHINGTON DC OFFICE OF AVIATION MEDICINE
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This paper summarizes a decade of research evaluating possible stress effects of work on Air Traffic Control Specialists ATCSs.Studies were conducted at a variety of large and small air traffic facilities. A visit of several days to each facility was part of an interdisciplinary research effort involving physiological and biochemical, as well as psychological, assessments. The principal psychological measure was the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory STAI. The STAI and other questionnaires were adminstered at the beginning and end of three to five different work shifts scheduled at a facility. The findings showed that controller groups scored significantly below college student norms on both the A-state current anxiety level and A-trait anxiety proneness measures of the STAI. Results with mood adjective checklists were similar. The findings also showed that anxiety levels 1 increased across an 8-hr work shift and 2 were higher on shifts rated difficult than they were on easy shifts. The establishment of adult norms for the STAI was undertaken to provide a better comparison for ATCS data. Results of those efforts indicated that ATCSs had lower anxiety scores than the normal adult population. Moreover, A-state scores increased from the beginning to end of work shifts for employees in a variety of non-air-traffic jobs e.g., engineers, just as they did for ATCSs. Thus ATCSs are well within normal limits on every indicator of psychological states used in these studies and appear to experience less anxiety than is the average in other work settings.
- Stress Physiology
- Human Factors Engineering and Man Machine Systems