Table 2

Summary of observational studies of associations between work factors and ill health: health care workers in developed countries beyond the UK

StudyCountryDesignParticipantsResponse rateWork factorsOutcomesResults
Arsenault et al, 199118CanadaCross sectional760 hospital workersNot reportedProfessional latitude, clinical demands, workload problems, role difficultiesMental strain including depression (Cobb) and anxiety (STAI)Low professional latitude (F=12.7, p<0.001) and high workload problems (F=4.5, p<0.04) and role difficulties (F=31.6, p<0.001) associated with mental strain
Brooke and Price, 198919USACross sectional425 hospital workers74%Routinisation, centralisation, pay, reward policy, role ambiguity, conflict, overload, organisational tolerance of absenteeismAbsenteeismHigh role ambiguity and tolerance of absenteeism, low pay and low centralisation predicted absenteeism (structural coefficients 0.21, p<0.001; 0.27, p<0.001; −0.11, p<0.05; −0.19, p<0.02, respectively)
Estryn-Behar et al, 199020FranceCross sectional1505 female hospital workers90%Mental load, insufficient training, time pressurePsychological distress (GHQ-12)Mental load and time pressure associated with psychological distress (ORs 2.9 and 2.2)
Gray-Toft and Anderson, 198521USAExperimental159 nursesNot reportedOpen, supportive supervisory styleAbsenteeismOpen supportive supervisory style associated with lower absenteeism (relevant statistics not presented)
Johnson et al, 199522USALongitudinal581 doctors86%Job demands, work control, social supportPsychological distress (GHQ-20)Work control and social support negatively associated with psychological distress (B=−0.44, p=0.05 and B=−0.46, p=0.05)
Landeweerd and Boumans, 199423NetherlandsCross sectional561 nurses96%Work pressure, job complexity, feedback, autonomy, promotion/trainingAbsence frequencyWork pressures associated with absence frequency (B=0.12) and promotion/training negatively associated (B=−0.12)
Marshall & Barnett, 199224USACross sectional362 female nurses and social workersNot reportedWork related support, job overloadPsychological distress (SCL-90-R) and emotional well-being (Rand Corporation)Co-worker support associated with emotional wellbeing (B=−0.20, p<0.01)
Martin, 198425USACross sectional95 and 140 hospital workers63% and 70%Work overload and ambiguity, participation in decision makingPsychological distress (GHQ-12)Work factors associated with distress (canonical correlations=0.53 and 0.41, p<0.001)
Petterson et al, 199526SwedenCross sectional2568 nurses76%Job influenceEmotional exhaustion (MBI)Job influence negatively associated with emotional exhaustion (p<0.001)
Pisarski et al, 199827AustraliaCross sectional172 nurses, aged 21–40 yearsNot reportedSocial supportPsychological distress (GHQ-12)Co-worker social support directly associated with distress and mediates association with supervisor social support (path coefficients <0.001)
Revicki and May, 198928USACross sectional232 nurses77%Organisational climate, supervisor behaviour, role ambiguity, social supportDepression (Rand corporation)The association of organisational climate and role ambiguity with depression is mediated by stress