Occup Environ Med 67:548-555 doi:10.1136/oem.2009.048967
  • Original article

The Employment Precariousness Scale (EPRES): psychometric properties of a new tool for epidemiological studies among waged and salaried workers

  1. Joan Benach1,2,3
  1. 1Center for Research in Occupational Health (CiSAL), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Spain
  3. 3Health Inequalities Research Group (GREDS), Employment Conditions Knowledge Network (Emconet), Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4Departamento de Salud Pública, Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
  5. 5Unitat de Recerca en Serveis Sanitaris, Institut Municipal d'Investigació Mèdica, Barcelona, Spain
  6. 6Union Institute of Work Environment and Health (ISTAS), Barcelona, Spain
  7. 7Department of Sociology, Faculty of Political Science and Sociology, Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Barcelona, Spain
  8. 8Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Alejandra Vives, Center for Research in Occupational Health (CiSAL), Universitat Pompeu Fabra, C/ Dr Aiguader 88, Edifici PRBB 1 planta, CiSAL, Barcelona 08003, Spain; alejandra.vives{at}
  1. Contributors JB and MA conceived the study on which this work is based, together with SM and CL who designed it and conducted the acquisition of data. AV, MA and MF designed this validation study; CM and FGB made substantial contributions to the analysis and interpretation of results. AV drafted the first and successive versions of the article and is responsible for the overall content of the manuscript. All authors substantially contributed to the interpretation of data, critically revised the manuscript for important intellectual content, and approved the final version.

  • Accepted 2 December 2009
  • Published Online First 24 June 2010


Background Despite the fact that labour market flexibility has resulted in an expansion of precarious employment in industrialised countries, to date there is limited empirical evidence concerning its health consequences. The Employment Precariousness Scale (EPRES) is a newly developed, theory-based, multidimensional questionnaire specifically devised for epidemiological studies among waged and salaried workers.

Objective To assess the acceptability, reliability and construct validity of EPRES in a sample of waged and salaried workers in Spain.

Methods A sample of 6968 temporary and permanent workers from a population-based survey carried out in 2004–2005 was analysed. The survey questionnaire was interviewer administered and included the six EPRES subscales, and measures of the psychosocial work environment (COPSOQ ISTAS21) and perceived general and mental health (SF-36).

Results A high response rate to all EPRES items indicated good acceptability; Cronbach's α coefficients, over 0.70 for all subscales and the global score, demonstrated good internal consistency reliability; exploratory factor analysis using principal axis analysis and varimax rotation confirmed the six-subscale structure and the theoretical allocation of all items. Patterns across known groups and correlation coefficients with psychosocial work environment measures and perceived health demonstrated the expected relations, providing evidence of construct validity.

Conclusions Our results provide evidence in support of the psychometric properties of EPRES, which appears to be a promising tool for the measurement of employment precariousness in public health research.


  • Funding Alejandra Vives is supported by Programme Alβan, the European Union's high level scholarship programme for Latin America, scholarship no. E06D103150CL. This study was partially funded by the Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria (Health Research Fund) of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Spanish Health Ministry, PI031499).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Prior to its initiation, the PWES protocol was reviewed and approved by the Union Institute of Work, Environment and Health (ISTAS) institutional review board (IRB).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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