Date of Conferral







Kathryn Dardeck


Humanitarian aid workers live and work in harsh circumstances far from loved ones and support mechanisms. The problem is that international aid must continue to work effectively despite stress levels. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand how aid workers perceive their work-related stressors, examine their subsequent experiences of in-house stress management services, and describe the factors that influence aid workers' decisions to access in-house stress management services. The conservation of resources theory was used to understand aid workers experience of stress. A purposive sampling technique was used to identify 12 aid workers with a minimum of 5 years of field experience. Data were collected through semistructured interviews conducted via Skype. After the data were reviewed, unit meanings were assigned and grouped to develop themes. The themes generated were organizational culture, social support, operational environment, the aid worker, adapting and strategizing, stress management services, and services. The greatest stressors participants reported related to the lack of safety and unpredictable working environments, and their experience of accessing stress management services were varied. Assurances of confidentiality and professionalism were the key factors that influenced aid workers engagement with stress management services. Participants received a summary of the findings which included recommendations for aid organizations on improving stress management services for aid workers. The results of this study contribute to the body of knowledge regarding the well-being of aid workers, supporting social change to improve the quality of care for the affected populations they serve.