Occup Environ Med 61:143-149 doi:10.1136/oem.2002.005835
  • Original article

Psychosocial work environment and indoor air problems: a questionnaire as a means of problem diagnosis

  1. M Lahtinen,
  2. C Sundman-Digert,
  3. K Reijula
  1. Uusimaa Regional Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Lahtinen
 Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Uusimaa Regional Institute, Arinatie 3 a, FIN-00370 Helsinki, Finland;
  • Accepted 31 March 2003


Aims: To examine the relation between the psychosocial work environment and the perceived indoor air problems measured by a questionnaire survey; and to discuss the role of a questionnaire as a means to enhance collaboration in the challenging multiprofessional process of solving indoor air problems.

Methods: The research material comprises surveys conducted in 1996–99 in 122 office workplaces with 11 154 employees.

Results: The association between the psychosocial work environment measured by the Indoor Air Questionnaire (MM-40) and the occupants’ complaints concerning indoor air as well as symptoms attributed to indoor air was significant. Those who perceived their psychosocial work environment more negatively had more complaints regarding the indoor environment and more symptoms attributed to the indoor air. The association was detected among both genders, in every age group, among smokers and non-smokers, and respondents with an allergic or a non-allergic background.

Conclusions: Results support the hypothesis that psychosocial factors in the work environment play a significant role in indoor air problems at workplaces. The survey data can be used as a reference database for future studies, and in occupational health care practice when the working conditions of individual workplaces are estimated. The MM-40 could be useful as a practical screening method in field work for analysing the role of the psychosocial work environment among the different background factors of an indoor air problem. However, in order to interpret and evaluate the significance of the results concerning a single workplace, more information on the organisation is needed, as well as cooperation and discussions with the staff. Further studies of the reliability and validity of the psychosocial questions in MM-40 are also needed.