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Differential economic stability and psychosocial stress at work: associations with psychosomatic complaints and absenteeism


  • Godin, Isabelle
  • Kittel, France


Stressful working conditions are well known to have a negative impact on the worker's health. We investigated this association in a Belgian study with a psychosocial health perspective, including individual work characteristics as well as firms' features. These data come from the first measure of the Somstress study. This is a 4 year project, initiated in 1999 and conducted in four different firms. The objective of this article is to investigate the relationships between stress, working conditions and absenteeism, self-reported health and psychosomatic complaints. Firms were selected according to their degree of structural environment and job stability. Among the four work sites, one can be considered as stable, one unstable and the remaining ones in an in-between situation. Stress is generally measured according to one of the following models: the job demands control model (Karasek) and the effort-reward imbalance model (Siegrist). We used here both models, along with the social support at work (Karasek) and overcommitment (Siegrist). Sex, age and education are important health determinants. After adjustment for those three variables and additionally for the work instability, it appeared that poor health outcomes (measured by the self-rated health, depression (SCL-90), anxiety (SCL-90), somatisation (SCL-90), chronic fatigue (Vercoulen) and reported absenteeism) are mainly associated with a low control, low social support at work, high overcommitment and high level of imbalance. Inversely, job demands do not make any significant contribution in the logistic regression models for the above-mentioned health outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Godin, Isabelle & Kittel, France, 2004. "Differential economic stability and psychosocial stress at work: associations with psychosomatic complaints and absenteeism," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(8), pages 1543-1553, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:58:y:2004:i:8:p:1543-1553

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    Cited by:

    1. Silvana Robone & Andrew Jones & Nigel Rice, 2011. "Contractual conditions, working conditions and their impact on health and well-being," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 12(5), pages 429-444, October.
    2. Karmakar, Sunita D. & Breslin, F. Curtis, 2008. "The role of educational level and job characteristics on the health of young adults," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 2011-2022, May.
    3. Cottini, Elena & Lucifora, Claudio, 2010. "Mental Health and Working Conditions in European Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 4717, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Elena Pirani, 2017. "On the Relationship Between Atypical Work(s) and Mental Health: New Insights from the Italian Case," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 233-252, January.
    5. Bamberger, Peter & Biron, Michal, 2007. "Group norms and excessive absenteeism: The role of peer referent others," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 179-196, July.
    6. Catherine Pollak, 2017. "The impact of a sick pay waiting period on sick leave patterns," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 18(1), pages 13-31, January.
    7. Broom, Dorothy H. & D'Souza, Rennie M. & Strazdins, Lyndall & Butterworth, Peter & Parslow, Ruth & Rodgers, Bryan, 2006. "The lesser evil: Bad jobs or unemployment? A survey of mid-aged Australians," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 575-586, August.
    8. Vanroelen, Christophe & Levecque, Katia & Moors, Guy & Gadeyne, Sylvie & Louckx, Fred, 2009. "The structuring of occupational stressors in a Post-Fordist work environment. Moving beyond traditional accounts of demand, control and support," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1082-1090, March.
    9. Muntaner, Carles & Li, Yong & Xue, Xiaonan & Thompson, Theresa & Chung, HaeJoo & O'Campo, Patricia, 2006. "County and organizational predictors of depression symptoms among low-income nursing assistants in the USA," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(6), pages 1454-1465, September.
    10. Kim, Il-Ho & Muntaner, Carles & Khang, Young-Ho & Paek, Domyung & Cho, Sung-Il, 2006. "The relationship between nonstandard working and mental health in a representative sample of the South Korean population," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 566-574, August.


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