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Study shows ‘psychosocial’ factors play a role in workers’ self-rated health

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Atlanta – Specific job characteristics may have more of a negative effect on worker health than occupation alone, NIOSH researchers concluded in a recent study.

From 2012 to 2016, the researchers looked at data from the NIOSH 2010 National Health Interview Survey, which asked 10,767 U.S. adults from numerous industries to rate their health from “excellent” to “poor.” They found noteworthy relationships between the self-assessments and job aspects in five categories: occupation, pay/benefits, workplace organization, chemical/environmental hazards and other “psychosocial” factors (e.g., work-life balance, job security and work environment).

Workers who reported being bullied at work were 82 percent more likely to report “fair” or “poor” health. Workers worried about potential unemployment (43 percent), those with no paid sick leave (35 percent) or those who reported a significant work-life imbalance (23 percent) also were more likely to say their health was “fair” or “poor.”

The researchers also found that workers in business operations jobs, such as human resources or marketing, were 85 percent more likely to say their health was “fair” or “poor” compared with other occupations – when results were adjusted for factors such as age, race and income.

“We believe this is the first study to show an association between business operations jobs and poor health,” Dr. Sara Luckhaupt, NIOSH medical officer and the study’s lead author, said in a press release. “Knowing which aspects of a person’s job can lead to poor health can help public health and employee wellness professionals develop, ideally with worker input, tailored workplace interventions to advance worker well-being.”

The study was published online May 8 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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