The Effects of Job-Related Stress on Medical Center Employee Communicator Style

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Founded on the assumption that communicator style is situationally and contextually influenced, this study investigates the effects of job-related stress on communicator style. It was specifically designed to measure the effects of job-related stress factors on employee communicator style within the context of a medical center organization. Three central research questions are posed: (1) what, if any, meaningful differences in communicator style can be found from general work conditions to stress-specific conditions; (2) do different stress conditions give rise to meaningful differences in communicator style; (3) what communicator style differences exist among three major medical center employee hierarchies in response to stress-specific situations. The results indicate that communicator style in the stress-specific sample was significantly more dominant, open, attentive but less dramatic and friendly. Multivariate analysis revealed that communicator style accounted for the greatest differences between employees who were experiencing stress due to being unprepared to perform their work role. All role-related stress variables were more powerfully discriminated by the communicator style variables than department/unit stress (stress at the work group level). Finally, communicator style variables provided statistically significant discrimination of three occupational groups: physicians, administrators/managers, and line employees. Physicians appeared to be more assertive and less supportive in their communication; administrators/managers were assertive but also supportive while line employees were both submissive and supportive in their communicator style. These three employee groups were also discriminated using the job-related stress variables. Although statistically significant findings were obtained, the discriminant functions were less powerful than the communicator style discriminant functions.

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Journal of Organizational Behavior, v. 2, issue 4, p. 235-253