Presentation T P34

T P34 (Poster Presentation):
Organizational change and mental health primary prevention – bringing the hidden consequences of change to light

Presented by: Janne Skakon


Skakon J1

  1. Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen



Most organizations, both in the public and private sector, undergo major changes these years, in order to increase efficiency and adapt to external demands. While discussions mainly concentrate on disruptive effects and economic aspects, including calculations concerning change related sickness absence, research on the hidden consequences on mental ill health among employees missed out, until recently. Research by Dahl (2010), including a comprehensive panel data set of all stress-related medicine prescriptions for 92,860 employees working in 1,517 of the largest Danish organizations, show that change increases the risk of negative stress and that the risk of receiving stress-related medication increases significantly for employees at organizations that change. Building on these significant results, the current study investigates how this important knowledge is perceived among managers and eventually applied at the workplace.


The study takes a qualitative research approach. Semi-structured interviews with 10 managers working in large organizations examined: they react to and interpret the findings, that organizational changes are associated with significant risks of employee health problems. they eventually manage stress prevention alongside organizational change processes, and they explain possibilities and barriers in this regard. The interviews were partly transcribed and data were analyzed through meaning condensation, categorization and thematic analysis.


In general managers statements reflect 1. Recognition of the situation, 2. Limited focus on stress and mental health issues when implementing change, 3.Insecurity about how to deal with “a hidden” factor, and 4.The opinion that preventing stress should mainly be taken serious by top-management, when planning for change.


Workplaces should care about and develop primary prevention strategies related to how change processes actually affects the employees, as the productivity, motivation, and loyalty highly depends on the employees’ mental health. This dialogue should also take place at CEO level, as strategic decisions springs from here, in order to ensure healthy change processes in the first place.

Schedule Details

Tuesday September 30
12:45 - 13:45 Poster Viewing
Session: Mental disorders