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Self perceived health and mental health among women flight attendants
  1. T J Ballard1,
  2. P Romito2,
  3. L Lauria1,
  4. V Vigiliano1,
  5. M Caldora1,
  6. C Mazzanti1,
  7. A Verdecchia1
  1. 1Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy
  2. 2University of Trieste, Department of Psychology, Trieste, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr T J Ballard
 Via A Diaz 7, 02040 Tarano, Italy; terri.ballard{at}


Aims: The authors investigated associations of work related risk factors with self perceived health as less than “good” and psychological distress among Italian women flight attendants.

Methods: The authors conducted a cross sectional survey on health and mental health among 1955 former and current flight attendants, using a postal questionnaire.

Results: More current than former flight attendants reported self perceived health as fair to poor and psychological distress measured as a GHQ-12 score of six or more. Among current flight attendants, reporting health as fair to poor was associated with low job satisfaction (OR 1.89) and recent experiences of sexual harassment by passengers (OR 2.83). Psychological distress was associated with low job satisfaction (OR 2.38) and frequent tension with partner over childcare (OR 1.79).

Conclusions: Perceived health as fair to poor and psychological distress were greater among current flight attendants and were related to job characteristics and family difficulties. Perceived poor health has been shown in the literature to be related to mortality, high job strain, and early retirement, and psychological distress is associated with work absence. The effect of sexual harassment by passengers on perceived health of flight attendants may be relevant to other working women dealing with the public. The health effects of family/work conflicts, low job satisfaction, and sexual harassment should be explored more in depth, using qualitative as well as quantitative methods among working women in various occupations.

  • flight personnel
  • mental health
  • perceived health
  • sexual harassment

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  • This work was supported by a grant from the Italian Ministry of Health.

  • The authors have no competing interests to declare.

  • The study was approved by the institutional bioethics review committee of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome Italy.