Introduction Work in oil industry often has workers living transiently in camps for 1–2 weeks periods. This is a challenge for workers’ personal-family life. The objective was to evaluate relationship of psychosocial factors and work-family interactions with psychological distress in Ecuadorian petroleum workers living transiently in camps, comparing to those who stay in cities.
Methods 350 workers invited to answer a self-administered questionnaire (response 88%; October 2015 to January 2016). Psychological distress assessed through General Health Questionnare – 12 items (GHQ-12; dichotomized GHQ-score, GHQcase=cut off 4/5). Psychosocial factors: Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) Questionnaire, short version (ERI and Overcommitment (OC) sub-scales, cut-off upper tertile). Work and family-personal life interaction evaluated with Work-Home Interaction – Nijmegen questionnaire (SWING; 4 dimensions, scores rescaled to 0–3, cut-off upper tertile). Other variables were socio-demographics and commuting time from house or camp to workplace.
Result Higher prevalences of GHQcases were found in workers who perceived higher ERI (38.1% vs 18.2%, p<0.001) and OC levels (33.6% vs 20.0%, p<0.05), compared to lower tertiles). GHQcases were also more prevalent in urban workers (31.5%, p=0.001) and when commuting time was >15 min (31.5%, p<0.05). Negative interactions from work to family and viceversa were associated with higher prevalences of GHQcases (p<0.05), while positive interactions were associated with lower ones (p<0.001). Adjusted Odds Ratios (95% CI) for GHQcase showed significant associations with ERI [2.34; (1.13–4.84)] and residing in cities while working [3.36; (1.38–8.16)]. Positive influences from domestic-personal life to work were associated with lower risk of psychological distress [0.25 (0.10–0.61)].
Discussion Perception of imbalance between effort and reward is associated with lower mental health. If skills and learnings acquired in domestic life are allowed to be displayed in work, workers seem to experience better mental health. Workers living transiently in camps exhibited better mental health in this group.