Examining Job Stress

“Examining Job Stress and Satisfaction Among Digital Forensic Examiners”
Thomas J. Holt and Kristie R. Blevins

Click here to read a related news article from Michigan State University, with interviews of the study’s authors.

Extended Summary

Data were collected from 56 investigators working with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. Participants completed electronic surveys about job satisfaction, work stress levels, how dangerous they believe their job to be, how often they feel conflicted in their role, their demographic information and what mechanisms they use to cope. Participants reported that, on average, they experience moderate work stress and high job satisfaction. More role conflict was associated with higher work stress and lower job satisfaction. The demographic information showed older respondents and male respondents tended to report more work stress. The coping mechanisms most commonly used were:

  • Distraction
  • Suppression
  • Talking with others
  • Withdrawal

This study contradicts previous evidence that digital forensic examiners typically experience high stress and burnout rates. However, the study reflects what has been found about other helping professions, in that it suggests that high-risk occupations have unique affects on worker solidarity and success. Coping mechanisms utilized are also consistent with those used in other helping professions. That more education correlated with less work stress and higher work satisfaction may be because those with more education have a better understanding of the occupation, and have more preparation and knowledge of how to handle various situations. A reason stress may increase with age is because those who have been with a company longer may acquire more responsibility. Reasons for differences in stress levels between men and women remain unclear.