The stressed executive: Sources and predictors of stress among participants in an executive health program

Ravindra Ganesh, Saswati Mahapatra, Debbie L. Fuehrer, Levi J. Folkert, Whitney A. Jack, Sarah M. Jenkins, Brent A. Bauer, Dietlind L. Wahner-Roedler, Amit Sood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Stress is highly prevalent in the U.S. society, especially in executives, and is a well-documented risk factor for a wide range of medical disorders. Knowledge of common sources of stress and predictive factors may help identify executives at risk of high stress and allow us to appropriately refer them for stress management treatment. Objective: The primary aim of this study was to identify common sources of stress, predictors of high stress, and other correlates among executives. Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey of executives who requested a stress management consult at our institution. We abstracted the data from a 14-item intake survey as well as from the patient interview. Results: Of the 839 executives, 827 executives (98.6%) who were referred for individual stress management consults completed the stress-related questions of the survey; 51.3% of these executives reported having a high stress level. Study participants mostly struggled with the well-being measures of sleep, anxiety, energy level, and diet. The majority reported that their main stressor was work related (n = 540, 64.4%) followed by family related (n = 371, 44.2%), health related (n = 170, 20.3%), and work–life balance (n = 62, 7.4%). In unadjusted analysis, high stress was associated with younger age (P =.006), lower quality-of-life scores (P <.001), and less physical activity (P <.001). In multivariable analyses, the strongest predictors for high stress level were younger age (odds ratios [OR] = 0.84, P =.045) and worse quality-of-life indicators such as anxiety (OR = 2.72, P <.001), diet (OR = 0.78, P =.02), and sleep (OR = 0.74, P <.003). Conclusion: These findings suggest that executives with a high level of stress might be best helped through a multimodality stress management program. Our findings merit replication in larger studies and more definitive confirmation with prospective clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGlobal Advances In Health and Medicine
StatePublished - 2018


  • Executive health
  • Occupational health
  • Stress
  • Stress management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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