Work Stress Inventory

Barone, D. F., et al. (1988). The Work Stress Inventory: Organizational stress and job risk. Educational and Psychological Measurement 48:141–54.


The 40-item Work Stress Inventory (WSI) assesses work stress. The inventory can be used to examine employee satisfaction, organizational development, organizational climate, and differences among occupations.

Scale Construction:

Study 1 involved the development of the WSI. After a review of the literature, 99 items that rep- resented work stressors (overload, role conflict, role ambiguity, nonparticipation, and interpersonal relationships) were generated. Based on the results of factor analysis, only 25 items were retained. Study 2 provided support for the validity of the WSI. Study 3 involved the development of a second scale for the WSI. After a review of the literature, 58 items that represented threats or risks (emergency responding, prolonged attention to detail, adverse conditions in the work environment, safety, and job security) were generated. Based on the results of factor analysis, only 20 items were retained. Study 4 provided additional support for the validity of the WSI.


The sample for Study 1 consisted of 300 workers (administrators/managers, nurses, police, teachers, social workers, counselors, and air traffic controllers). The sample for Study 2 consisted of 100 workers. The sample for Study 3 consisted of 231 workers. The sample for Study 4 consisted of 182 workers.


The alpha coefficient for Study 1 was 0.94 and using a cross-validation sample (25 items), the alpha coefficient was 0.92. The alpha coefficient for Study 3 was 0.91. Test-retest reliabilities for the organizational stress scale in Study 4 were 0.88 (intensity), 0.83 (frequency), and 0.84 (composite). Test-retest reliabilities (over a one-month period) for the job risk scale in Study 4 were 0.90 (intensity), 0.91 (frequency), and 0.90 (composite).


Evidence for the construct and predictive validity of the WSI is provided in Study 2. The WSI was compared to questionnaires that assessed job satisfaction, anxiety, and daily stressors. Study 4 provides further evidence for validity by comparing the two scales of the WSI to questionnaires that assessed job satisfaction, anxiety, absenteeism/ turnover and daily stressors.

Factor Analysis:

A principal components factor analysis was conducted in Study 1 and one factor was identified (organizational stress). A principal components factor analysis was conducted in Study 3 and one factor was identified (job risk). A varimax rotation yielded two factors: organizational stress (OS) contains 20 items (1, 3, 4, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 20, 22, 23, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 34, 38, and 40) and job risk (JR) contains 20 items (2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24, 27, 28, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, and 39).

Data Analysis:

Correlation matrices (Study 2 and Study 4) are reported.


Lee, R. T., and B. E. Ashforth. (1993). A longitudinal study of burnout among supervisors and managers: Comparisons between the Leiter and Maslach (1988) and Golembiewski, et al. (1986) models. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 54:369–398.

Page, R. A. (1988). Changing stressful work environments: Supervisory interventions with minority service workers. PhD dissertation, Nova University.

Sarason, I. G., et al. (1983). Assessing social support: The Social Support Questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 44:127–39.

Simons, Y., and Barone, D. F. (1994). The relationship of work stressors and emotional support to strain in police officers. International Journal of Stress Management 1:223–34.

Work Stress Inventory

1. Not knowing what superiors expect of you.
2. Having to respond on an “emergency basis.”
3. Disagreeing with superiors.
4. Not knowing how much authority you have.
5. Being injured as a result of the mistakes of others.
6. Having to deal with injury or death as part of your job.
7. Having to make decisions that will dramatically affect other peoples’ lives.

8. Finding that rewards are not based on performance (e.g., promotions, raises).
9. Having to deal with several pressing problems at once.
10. Working in a “high crime area.”
11. Not knowing what supervisors think of you.
12. Not having the opportunity to participate in decision making.
13. Having conflicting job responsibilities.
14. Working without adequate safety standards.
15. Having inadequate personnel or equipment to respond in an emergency situation.
16. Feeling there is no clear chain of command.
17. Having periods of inactivity separated by periods of emergency response.
18. Having to physically restrain others.
19. Potential for being injured on the job.
20. Being held responsible for too many different activities.
21. Knowing that your error may harm another person.
22. Failing to receive recognition of achievement by superiors.
23. Having to do things on the job that are against your better judgment.
24. Never knowing when a potentially dangerous event might occur.
25. Feeling that your work ability is under rated.
26. Not being permitted to make decisions on your own.
27. Working for long periods of time without rest.
28. Performing duties that are potentially dangerous to others.
29. Receiving criticism from superiors.
30. Receiving conflicting requests.
31. Finding a lack of assistance or support from superiors.
32. Working in excess of eight hours per day.
33. Working with dangerous materials.
34. Having ideas considerably different from those of your superior.
35. Doing another person’s job in addition to yours.
36. Having to maintain prolonged vigilance to protect the safety of others.
37. Potential for being the victim of a crime while on the job.
38. Being held responsible for mistakes made by coworkers.
39. Working while fatigued or tired.
40. Working under inconsistent policies and guidelines.


Intensity (amount of stress) is scored as: 0 = None; 1 = A little; 2 = Moderate amount; 3 = Much; and 4 = Very much. Frequency is scored as: 0 = Never; 1 = Rarely (annually); 2 = Sometimes (at least monthly); 3 = Often (at least weekly); and 4 = Daily.