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Psychosocial Correlates of Job Strain in a Sample of Working Women

Redford B. Williams, MD; John C. Barefoot, PhD; James A. Blumenthal, PhD; Michael J. Helms, MS; Linda Luecken, MA; Carl F. Pieper, DPH; Ilene C. Siegler, PhD, MPH; Edward C. Suarez, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1997;54(6):543-548. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1997.01830180061007.
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Background:  This study identifies potential mediators of job strain effects on health by determining whether psychosocial factors known to predict an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality are higher among women who report high levels of job strain.

Methods:  Measures of job strain and other psychosocial risk factors were obtained in a sample of 152 female employees of a local corporation. Canonical correlation and analyses of covariance were used to assess relationships between job demands and decision latitude and other psychosocial risk factors.

Results:  A significant (P=.002) solution to the canonical correlation analysis showed that high job demands and low decision latitude were correlated with a pattern of psychosocial factors consisting of (1) increased levels of negative emotions like anxiety, anger, depression, and hostility; (2) reduced levels of social support; and (3) a preponderance of negative compared with positive feelings in dealings with coworkers and supervisors. This pattern was confirmed by analyses of covariance that adjusted for demographic and specific job characteristics.

Conclusions:  The canonical correlation analysis results provide empirical support for the job strain construct. The most important finding is that health-damaging psychosocial factors like job strain, depression, hostility, anxiety, and social isolation tend to cluster in certain individuals.

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