Additional Reading



Faculty of Medicine, Department of Nursing and Health Science




Rättyä, Lea:                            Diaconal workers' descriptions of their work

                                               and coping at work

Licentiate thesis:                   110 pages, 4 appendices (9 pages)

October 2004


The current study aimed at describing diaconal work, being at work and coping with it from  the diaconal workers' point of view. The research approach was qualitative. The research data were gathered using the role-playing method and a questionnaire with open-ended questions. The role-playing method was used to gather data through two frame stories among diaconal workers in the deaneries of Liminka, Kalajoki and Raahe. The number of frame stories was 57. The questionnaires with open-ended questions were sent to all the diaconal workers in the Diocese of Oulu (N=153). The number of questionnaires returned was 79 (51.6 %). 76 of the questionnaires were included in the data analysis. The analysis was carried out using inductive content analysis.


The diaconal workers are mainly highly motivated for and enjoy their work. Diaconal work involves skilled helping, comprehensive support and prevention of distress. Important things in the work include intensive encounters with people, comprehensive support for them, and the rewards of the work. These issues reinforce the feeling of success at work. Less important work functions include those in which there are no intensive encounters with people and the work consists of endless service. In such cases the worker feels that she has failed in her work. A meaningful working and private life promotes coping at work. On the basis of the results, a preliminary model was elaborated according to which involvement in diaconal work, the contents of the work, success at work and coping with it are all related to each other. The worker's motivation for diaconal work and job satisfaction are connected with the contents of work, helping, encountering, supporting and serving the customer, prevention of distress, the experience of success at work, feeling of the rewards of work as well as the meaningfulness of her work and private life. Correspondingly, the meaningfulness of work or private life can have an impact on the contents of work, the experience of success at work and being at work.


The knowledge produced in this study can be utilised in diaconal work and in the planning and implementation of education in this field. The model produced here adds to the understanding of the connections between doing diaconal work, the contents of the work and coping at work.


Keywords: diaconal work, coping at work.