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      How Demanding Is Volunteer Work at a Crisis Line? An Assessment of Work- and Organization-Related Demands and the Relation With Distress and Intention to Leave


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          Background: Crisis line services, run by volunteers, offer a listening ear 24/7 to people who cannot or do not want to use professional help. Although previous studies have identified various potential stressors crisis line volunteers face, as yet a comprehensive assessment is lacking with regards to the frequency and perceived stressfulness of work- and organization-related demands, and their relationship with distress and a volunteer's intention to leave.

          Objective: To identify the frequency and impact of particular stressful situations (demands). In addition, to examine the extent to which these demands are associated with volunteers' demographics, distress and intention to leave the crisis line service.

          Method: In a cross-sectional study among 543 volunteers of a Dutch crisis line service the participants filled out a questionnaire about their experience of a large number of work- and organization-related demands and their perceived stressfulness. To calculate the impact of demands, the occurrence and stressfulness were multiplied. In addition, work-related distress, intention to leave the crisis line service as well as a number of demographics and work-related characteristics were assessed.

          Results: Work-related demands with the highest impact on volunteers were calls from people with psychiatric problems and suicidal intentions. “Having no time for a break” was the organization-related demand with the highest impact on volunteers. Eighteen percentage of the volunteers scored moderate or high on distress and 4% had the intention to leave the crisis line service within 1 year. Most work- and organization-related demands were positively associated with volunteers' distress and intention to leave the organization. Being older, being male and spending more hours per week volunteering were significantly, positively correlated with work-related demands. The total explained variance for distress was 16% and for intention to leave 13%.

          Conclusion: Although most crisis line volunteers experienced low impact from work- and organization-related demands, these demands were significantly related to experienced distress and the intention to leave crisis line service. For volunteers with moderate to high distress it can be useful to implement interventions aimed at increasing personal resources to help them deal with the challenges of the work at the crisis line.

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          Most cited references37

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          Psychological distress, anxiety, family violence, suicidality, and wellbeing in New Zealand during the COVID-19 lockdown: A cross-sectional study

          New Zealand’s early response to the novel coronavirus pandemic included a strict lockdown which eliminated community transmission of COVID-19. However, this success was not without cost, both economic and social. In our study, we examined the psychological wellbeing of New Zealanders during the COVID-19 lockdown when restrictions reduced social contact, limited recreation opportunities, and resulted in job losses and financial insecurity. We conducted an online panel survey of a demographically representative sample of 2010 adult New Zealanders in April 2020. The survey contained three standardised measures–the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10), the GAD-7, and the Well-Being Index (WHO-5)–as well as questions designed specifically to measure family violence, suicidal ideation, and alcohol consumption. It also included items assessing positive aspects of the lockdown. Thirty percent of respondents reported moderate to severe psychological distress (K10), 16% moderate to high levels of anxiety, and 39% low wellbeing; well above baseline measures. Poorer outcomes were seen among young people and those who had lost jobs or had less work, those with poor health status, and who had past diagnoses of mental illness. Suicidal ideation was reported by 6%, with 2% reporting making plans for suicide and 2% reporting suicide attempts. Suicidality was highest in those aged 18–34. Just under 10% of participants had directly experienced some form of family harm over the lockdown period. However, not all consequences of the lockdown were negative, with 62% reporting ‘silver linings’, which included enjoying working from home, spending more time with family, and a quieter, less polluted environment. New Zealand’s lockdown successfully eliminated COVID-19 from the community, but our results show this achievement brought a significant psychological toll. Although much of the debate about lockdown measures has focused on their economic effects, our findings emphasise the need to pay equal attention to their effects on psychological wellbeing.
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            An evaluation of crisis hotline outcomes. Part 2: Suicidal callers.

            In this study we evaluated the effectiveness of telephone crisis services/hotlines, examining proximal outcomes as measured by changes in callers' suicide state from the beginning to the end of their calls to eight centers in the U.S. and again within 3 weeks of their calls. Between March 2003 and July 2004, 1,085 suicide callers were assessed during their calls and 380 (35.0%) participated in the follow-up assessment. Several key findings emerged. Seriously suicidal individuals reached out to telephone crisis services. Significant decreases in suicidality were found during the course of the telephone session, with continuing decreases in hopelessness and psychological pain in the following weeks. A caller's intent to die at the end of the call was the most potent predictor of subsequent suicidality. The need to heighten outreach strategies and improve referrals is highlighted.
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              The Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire (4DSQ): a validation study of a multidimensional self-report questionnaire to assess distress, depression, anxiety and somatization

              Background The Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire (4DSQ) is a self-report questionnaire that has been developed in primary care to distinguish non-specific general distress from depression, anxiety and somatization. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate its criterion and construct validity. Methods Data from 10 different primary care studies have been used. Criterion validity was assessed by comparing the 4DSQ scores with clinical diagnoses, the GPs' diagnosis of any psychosocial problem for Distress, standardised psychiatric diagnoses for Depression and Anxiety, and GPs' suspicion of somatization for Somatization. ROC analyses and logistic regression analyses were used to examine the associations. Construct validity was evaluated by investigating the inter-correlations between the scales, the factorial structure, the associations with other symptom questionnaires, and the associations with stress, personality and social functioning. The factorial structure of the 4DSQ was assessed through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The associations with other questionnaires were assessed with Pearson correlations and regression analyses. Results Regarding criterion validity, the Distress scale was associated with any psychosocial diagnosis (area under the ROC curve [AUC] 0.79), the Depression scale was associated with major depression (AUC = 0.83), the Anxiety scale was associated with anxiety disorder (AUC = 0.66), and the Somatization scale was associated with the GPs' suspicion of somatization (AUC = 0.65). Regarding the construct validity, the 4DSQ scales appeared to have considerable inter-correlations (r = 0.35-0.71). However, 30–40% of the variance of each scale was unique for that scale. CFA confirmed the 4-factor structure with a comparative fit index (CFI) of 0.92. The 4DSQ scales correlated with most other questionnaires measuring corresponding constructs. However, the 4DSQ Distress scale appeared to correlate with some other depression scales more than the 4DSQ Depression scale. Measures of stress (i.e. life events, psychosocial problems, and work stress) were mainly associated with Distress, while Distress, in turn, was mainly associated with psychosocial dysfunctioning, including sick leave. Conclusion The 4DSQ seems to be a valid self-report questionnaire to measure distress, depression, anxiety and somatization in primary care patients. The 4DSQ Distress scale appears to measure the most general, most common, expression of psychological problems.

                Author and article information

                Front Public Health
                Front Public Health
                Front. Public Health
                Frontiers in Public Health
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                15 July 2021
                : 9
                : 699116
                [1] 1Research Center Innovations in Care, Rotterdam University of Applied Science , Rotterdam, Netherlands
                [2] 2Department of Psychology, Health and Technology, University of Twente , Enschede, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Ashwani Kumar Mishra, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India

                Reviewed by: Dave Fildes, University of Wollongong, Australia; Ande Nesmith, University of St. Thomas, United States

                *Correspondence: Renate C. W. J. Willems r.c.w.j.willems@ 123456hr.nl

                This article was submitted to Public Mental Health, a section of the journal Frontiers in Public Health

                Copyright © 2021 Willems, Drossaert, Miedema and Bohlmeijer.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 22 April 2021
                : 22 June 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 6, Equations: 0, References: 41, Pages: 11, Words: 8433
                Funded by: Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek 10.13039/501100003246
                Public Health
                Original Research

                crisis line volunteers,stressors,demands,intention to leave,distress,mental wellbeing


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