Original Research

The relationship between wellbeing indicators and teacher psychological stress in Eastern Cape public schools in South Africa

Malik L.M. Vazi, Robert A.C. Ruiter, Bart van den Borne, Glynnis Martin, Kitty Dumont, Priscilla S. Reddy
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 39, No 1 | a1042 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v39i1.1042 | © 2013 Malik L.M. Vazi, Robert A.C. Ruiter, Bart van den Borne, Glynnis Martin, Kitty Dumont, Priscilla S. Reddy | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 January 2012 | Published: 26 July 2013

About the author(s)

Malik L.M. Vazi, Work and Social Psychology Department, University of Maastricht, Netherlands
Robert A.C. Ruiter, Work and Social Psychology Department, University of Maastricht, Netherlands
Bart van den Borne, Department of Health Promotion and Health Education, University of Maastricht, Netherlands
Glynnis Martin, Psychological Service Centre, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Kitty Dumont, College of Graduate Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa
Priscilla S. Reddy, Population Health, Health Systems and Innovation, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa


Orientation: Positive psychological and subjective wellbeing indicators have proven to be protective against certain physical illnesses but have been rarely assessed in teacher stress.

Research purpose: The main objective of this study was to assess the relationship between indicators of wellbeing and stress and to further assess the relative importance of these wellbeing indicators in explaining stress variance in a large sample of Eastern Cape primary and high school teachers in South Africa.

Motivation for the study: The majority of teacher stress studies focus on the misfit between the individual’s resources and the environmental demands. There is a scarcity of studies reporting on protective factors in teaching and we know little about their possible role as possible protective factors against stress. This is important in developing stress prevention strategies.

Research design, approach and method: A cross-sectional survey was used targeting public school teachers in the Eastern Cape. The sample size was 562 randomly selected teachers from both public primary and high schools.

Main findings: The results revealed that stress is prevalent amongst teachers. Subjective and psychological wellbeing factors added significantly to the explained stress variance. Also, both negative affect and role problems had significant positive correlations with stress, whilst psychological wellbeing had a strong inverse relationship with stress.

Practical/managerial implications: The results implied that interventions focusing on improving psychological wellbeing and reduction of negative affect can contribute to stress prevention.

Contribution/value-add: The results contributed towards a better understanding of the relative importance of wellbeing constructs as protective factors against teacher stress.


Protective factors; Teacher psychological stress; Psychological wellbeing; Subjective wellbeing; Wellness; Work and health


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