The effects of job stress on health behaviors
Deitz, Diane Kay
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Tested Karasek's model of 'job strain' and its association with health-related behavior. Participants in the study were 287 men and women aged 30-60 recruited from nine New York City worksites. Job demands and job control were assessed with a self-report questionnaire, the Job Content Survey (JCS). Results of the JCS were dichotomized into high strain/other and into a four-level job strain variable categorized by high strain, active, low strain, and passive jobs. A self-report inventory assessed health behaviors: smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine consumption, and physical activity.;Analysis of the association between job strain and health behaviors controlled for important demographic and individual psychological variables. Bivariate results found some support for the hypothesis that greater job strain was related to greater reporting of at-risk behaviors. Namely, persons in high strain jobs tended to be more likely to smoke. Job strain was related to lower caffeine consumption and lower exercise outside the work environment. Individual work site characteristics were related to unique patterns of reported alcohol consumption and smoking behavior. Finally, women reported higher job strain and differed in their health-habits when compared to men.;Multiple regression analyses provided limited support for the 'job strain' hypothesis and its association with reported health behaviors. Among the significant findings was a negative relationship between caffeine consumption and high stress at work.;Overall, the findings provide a glimpse that subtle work environment or 'cultural' characteristics may impact on individual stress levels and health related outcomes as much or in conjunction with job strain. Demographic characteristics and gender were related to levels of job strain and to unique patterns of health behavior. Women tended to score higher on work stress measures when compared to men and were more likely to smoke. Men tended to drink alcohol more frequently than women and to consume greater quantities of alcohol when drinking. Further research is recommended to refine theory and propose alternative models for studying job stress and health behaviors.