identifying teachers at risk in Hong Kong: Psychosomatic symptoms and sources of stress

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Objective: The present study attempts to examine the relationships between certain common psychosomatic symptoms and sources of stress in Hong Kong teachers. Methods: A total of 261 teachers (134 males and 127 females) from 13 high schools in different regions of Hong Kong responded to the Teacher Stress Inventory (TSI) with a return rate of 52.2%. Retired and in-service teachers were involved in the development of TSI, which included items related to sources of stress in the context of Hong Kong education system, psychosomatic symptoms in the form of stress arousal, and global stress. Results: Confirmatory factor analysis identified six distinct teacher stress sources: students, others, curriculum, nonteaching duties, teaching workload, and recognition. These stress sources were positively correlated with a global teacher stress measure, supporting their construct validity. Structural equation models showed that each stress source was positively related to teachers' psychosomatic symptoms, to which the path coefficient from teaching workload was the highest (β=.47, P < .05). Conclusion: The heavy workload experienced by the Hong Kong teachers that is directly related to the daily teaching routine tends to be the most detrimental to their health conditions. Measures such as reducing teacher–student ratio by adopting smaller class sizes, increasing teacher numbers, and reframing teaching practice should be given due consideration in Hong Kong. There is a need for the inclusion of stress management programs for both trainees and in-service teachers.

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Journal Article

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