The moderating effect of socio-demographic variables on the 'character-strengths' of rural frontline workers: a formative study in India
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Sangath, India
Sangath, Madhya Pradesh, India
Sangath, Bhopal, India
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1248
Introduction: Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs), who deliver village-level primary healthcare in India, experience substantial work-stress due to the ‘emotional labor’ contributed by the interplay between personal (domestic) and workplace factors. Negotiation with work-stress tends to involve, among others, personal attributes, or ‘character-strengths’ as termed in the positive psychology literature. Little is known about the background variables that influence the expression and usage of these strengths. We aim to explore the moderating effects of specific socio-demographic variables on the character-strengths of ASHAs, to inform designing of an intervention to address their work-stress. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in rural Madhya Pradesh (central India) to assess the self-reported ‘character-strengths’ of ASHAs (N=274) using a 24-item vignette-based six-point Likert measure, ‘Self-Perceived Strengths’ (Mehrotra et al, 2015). Secondary analysis using descriptive and two-tailed unpaired t tests explored the relationships between socio-demographic variables (e.g., ASHA’s age and work experience in years; number of family members; monthly household income and number of close friends) and mean scores of individual strengths. Results: The strengths of “persistence” and “gratitude” showed significant differences in mean scores by age-groups, with greater expression in older (>33-year-old) ASHAs. Between ASHAs with different levels of work experience, “spirituality” and “close and loving relationships” showed a significant difference in means, with greater expression among more experienced ASHAs (>10 years). Concerning monthly household income, “practicality and far-sightedness” showed a significant difference in means, with greater expression in ASHAs with lesser incomes (<=€80). No strength showed significantly different expressions between ASHAs having varying number of family members or close friends. Discussion: Self-perception of character-strengths is culture-dependent and moderated by varied socio-demographic characteristics. Interventions aiming to reduce work stress among ASHAs (and similar frontline workers) by leveraging character-strengths should consider a contextualization of their strategies for optimal absorption by individuals having different underlying socio-demographic moderators.