The teaching profession is an occupation with a high prevalence of work-related stress. This may lead to sustained physical and mental health problems in teachers. It can also negatively affect the health, wellbeing and educational attainment of children, and impose a financial burden on the public budget in terms of teacher turnover and sickness absence. Most evaluated interventions for the wellbeing of teachers are directed at the individual level, and so do not tackle the causes of stress in the workplace. Organisational-level interventions are a potential avenue in this regard.
To evaluate the effectiveness of organisational interventions for improving wellbeing and reducing work-related stress in teachers.
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, ASSIA, AEI, BEI, BiblioMap, DARE, DER, ERIC, IBSS, SSCI, Sociological Abstracts, a number of specialist occupational health databases, and a number of trial registers and grey literature sources from the inception of each database until January 2015.
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), cluster-RCTs, and controlled before-and-after studies of organisational-level interventions for the wellbeing of teachers.
We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane.
Four studies met the inclusion criteria. They were three cluster-randomised controlled trials and one with a stepped-wedge design.Changing task characteristicsOne study with 961 teachers in eight schools compared a task-based organisational change intervention along with stress management training to no intervention. It found a small reduction at 12 months in 10 out of 14 of the subscales in the Occupational Stress Inventory, with a mean difference (MD) varying from -3.84 to 0.13, and a small increase in the Work Ability Index (MD 2.27; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64 to 2.90; 708 participants, low-quality evidence).Changing organisational characteristicsTwo studies compared teacher training combined with school-wide coaching support to no intervention. One study with 59 teachers in 43 schools found no significant effects on job-related anxiety (MD -0.25 95% CI -0.61 to 0.11, very low-quality evidence) or depression (MD -0.26 95% CI -0.57 to 0.05, very low-quality evidence) after 24 months. The other study with 77 teachers in 18 schools found no significant effects on the Maslach Burnout Inventory subscales (e.g. emotional exhaustion subscale: MD -0.05 95% CI -0.52 to 0.42, low-quality evidence) or the Teacher Perceived Emotional Ability subscales (e.g. regulating emotions subscale: MD 0.11 95% CI -0.11 to 0.33, low-quality evidence) after six months.Multi-component interventionOne study with 1102 teachers in 34 schools compared a multi-component intervention containing performance bonus, job promotion opportunities and mentoring support to a matched-comparison group consisting of 300 schools. It found moderately higher teacher retention rates (MD 11.50 95% CI 3.25 to 19.75 at 36 months follow-up, very low-quality evidence). However, the authors reported results only from one cohort out of four (eight schools), demonstrating a high risk of reporting bias.
We found low-quality evidence that organisational interventions lead to improvements in teacher wellbeing and retention rates. We need further evaluation of the effects of organisational interventions for teacher wellbeing. These studies should follow a complex-interventions framework, use a cluster-randomised design and have large sample sizes.