The Life Task Tests is designed as a practical tool to measure how rescue workers, for example police personnel, cope with life tasks.
Why a test to measury life tasks effectiveness?
In both preventive and curative mental health support, it is important to enhance the effectiveness in life tasks, because it works as a buffer for the adversity of rescue work. Moreover, it gives rescue workers mastery of their personal life, makes self-management stronger, as well as it gives feelings of confidence and positive energy.
How is the test constructed?
The items are close to everyday clinical practice. It adds valuable information to the commonly used questionnaires on mental health complaints. The test may also provide insight on which life tasks domains are functioning well and which are in need of attention to improve the effectiveness.
Test scales measured are the following:
Several studies show that a supportive environment can act as a protective buffer. Social support by friends moderates negative effects in life (Bandura, 2001) and it is believed to be positively associated with satisfaction, productivity and negatively with burnout (Baruch-Feldman et al. 2002). Stetz et al. (2006) showed the importance of social support in units of military police, where it was believed that social support moderates the effect of strain in a relationship. Supervisor support in particular is related to satisfaction and productivity but not to burnout, whereas family support is related to job stress (i.e., burnout) and less with productivity (Evans et al. 2013). Yasien et al. (2016), Chae and Boyle (2013) show the importance of sense of community and bonding to others which lowers psychological distress.
Maintaining Mental Health
Self-efficacy appears to play a critical role in the recovery of post-traumatic stress) and in the impact of loss of resources (Benight, 2002; Bandura, 2001). Cicognani et al. (2009) studied emergency workers and found that a sense of community is positively related to efficacy beliefs and active coping strategies. Heinrichs et al. (2005) conclude that firemen develop more PTSD and feelings of hostility, if they score low on self-efficacy. Self-efficacy buffers the impact of perceived stressful encounters on professional quality of life (Prati, 2010; Regehr et al. 2003; Robyn et al. 2011). Shepherd and Wild (2014) found in ambulance workers that enhanced coping was associated with making more positive appraisals and greater levels of objectivity during these call-outs. Also, Sonnentag and Grant (2012) show that perceived competence and reflection foster positive work reflection after-work hours.
Household and Finance
The practical organization of household chores and finance is an important life task that can easily come under pressure due to long hours and irregular shifts. Elbogen et al. (2012) found the following protective factors among a group of veterans: paid employment, self-care and stable financial situation. Moreover, respondents with mental health problems had more financial and job problems than participants without those mental health problems. In a study of Bailey, Woodiel, Turner and Young (1998) on mental health care professionals, financial stress is responsible for 30% of the variance of personal and job happiness.
Research on the role of meaning in treatment is still in its early stages (Cheavens et al. 2006). The more important the role rescue workers play in a mission or assignment, the better they are able to cope with the stress (Schok et al., 2008). The professional role of being of meaning in life saving and well-being is an important protective factor (Abelsson, 2018). Allen et al. (2011) found a higher resilience predicts less distrust in others and the world and more personal growth. Giving meaning in response to adverse and stressful events acts as a protective buffer and facilitates recovery.
Sonnentag and Grant (2012) found that positive work reflection was associated with a higher perceived competence and predicted a positive affect at home. The ability to mentally detach from work is also associated with improved affective states at home (Oginska-Bullik & Zadwarna-Cieslak, 2018). Additionally, engaging in positive activities buffers against negative feelings and beliefs about self-efficacy (Caprara & Steca, 2005). Helping others is an experience of success that can boost feelings of competence (Grant & Campbell, 2007; Penner et al., 2005). Maintaining positivity is an aspect of resilient people, they experience a mix of negative and positive emotions, without letting negative emotions overwhelm them (Fredrickson, 2009, Calhoun & Tedeschi 2006). In a study under rescue workers (Yasien et. al, 2016) especially show that religion, sense of community and sense of importance helping others is related to less psychological distress. The ability to stay positive in work seems like an important dimension in the life tasks of rescue workers
What to do with the test results?
A test specific training is available from us. This training will help you to understand the scale scores and the possible interventions for your candidate. We strongly recommend you take this training.
You can find more information about the digital use of the life tasks test here and in the International Journal of Emergency Services.