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1.  The social gradient in work and health: a cross-sectional study exploring the relationship between working conditions and health inequalities 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1170.
Background
Social inequalities in health are widely examined. But the reasons behind this phenomenon still remain unclear in parts. It is undisputed that the work environment plays a crucial role in this regard. However, the contribution of psychosocial factors at work is unclear and inconsistent, and most studies are limited with regard to work factors and health outcomes. This study, therefore, aimed to explore the role and contribution of various physical and psychosocial working conditions to explaining social inequalities in different self-reported health outcomes.
Methods
Data from a postal survey among the workforces of four medium-sized and large companies from diverse industries of the secondary sector in Switzerland were used and analysed. The study sample covered 1,846 employees aged 20 and 64 and included significant proportions of unskilled manual workers and highly qualified non-manual workers. Cross tabulations and logistic regression analyses were performed to study multiple associations between social status, work factors and health outcomes. Combinations of educational level and occupational position wee used as a measure of social status or class.
Results
Clear social gradients were observed for almost all adverse working conditions and poor health outcomes studied, but in different directions. While physical workloads and other typical blue-collar job characteristics not suprisingly, were found to be much more common among the lower classes, most psychosocial work demands and job resources were more prevalent in the higher classes. Furthermore, workers in lower classes, i.e. with lower educational and occupational status, were more likely to report poor self-rated health, limited physical functioning and long sickness absence, but at the same time were less likely to experience increased stress feelings and burnout symptoms showing a reversed health gradient. Finally, blue-collar job characteristics contributed substantially to the social gradient found in general and physical health outcomes. In contrast, white-collar job characteristics made no contribution to explaining the gradient in these health outcomes, but instead largely explained the reversed social gradient observed for the mental health outcomes.
Conclusion
The findings suggest a more differentiated pattern of the commonly found social gradient in health and the differential role of work in this respect.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1170
PMCID: PMC4028882  PMID: 24330543
Health inequalities; Social gradient; Educational status; Occupational status; Physical working conditions; Psychosocial working conditions; Blue-collar job characteristics; White-collar job characteristics; Switzerland
2.  Persistent work-life conflict and health satisfaction - A representative longitudinal study in Switzerland 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:271.
Background
The objectives of the present study were (1) to track work-life conflict in Switzerland during the years 2002 to 2008 and (2) to analyse the relationship between work-life conflict and health satisfaction, examining whether long-term work-life conflict leads to poor health satisfaction.
Methods
The study is based on a representative longitudinal database (Swiss Household Panel), covering a six-year period containing seven waves of data collection. The sample includes 1261 persons, with 636 men and 625 women. Data was analysed by multi-level mixed models and analysis of variance with repeated measures.
Results
In the overall sample, there was no linear increase or decrease of work-life conflict detected, in either its time-based or strain-based form. People with higher education were more often found to have a strong work-life conflict (time- and strain-based), and more men demonstrated a strong time-based work-life conflict than women (12.2% vs. 5%). A negative relationship between work-life conflict and health satisfaction over time was found. People reporting strong work-life conflict at every wave reported lower health satisfaction than people with consistently weak work-life conflict. However, the health satisfaction of those with a continuously strong work-life conflict did not decrease during the study period.
Conclusions
Both time-based and strain-based work-life conflict are strongly correlated to health satisfaction. However, no evidence was found for a persistent work-life conflict leading to poor health satisfaction.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-271
PMCID: PMC3103457  PMID: 21529345
work-life conflict; work-family conflict; health; longitudinal analysis; mixed model analysis; Switzerland
3.  Work-life conflict and musculoskeletal disorders: a cross-sectional study of an unexplored association 
Background
The health consequences of work-family or rather work-life conflict (WLC) have been studied by numerous researchers. The work-related causes of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are also well explored. And stress (at work) has been found to be a consequence of WLC as well as a cause of MSD. But very little is known about a potential association between WLC and MSD and the possible mediating role of stress in this relationship.
Methods
Survey data collected in 2007 among the workforces of four large companies in Switzerland were used for this study. The study population covered 6091 employees. As the exposure variable and hypothesized risk factor for MSD, WLC was measured by using a 10-item scale based on an established 18-item scale on work-family conflict. The outcome variables used as indicators of MSD were (low) back pain and neck/shoulder pain. Stress as the assumed intervening variable was assessed by a validated single-item measure of general stress perception. Correlation coefficients (r), standardized regression coefficients (β) and multiple adjusted odds ratios (OR) were calculated as measures of association.
Results
WLC was found to be quite strongly associated with MSD (β = .21). This association turned out to be substantially confounded by physical strain at work, workload and job autonomy and was considerably reduced but far from being completely eliminated after adjusting for general stress as another identified risk factor of MSD and a proven strong correlate of WLC (r = .44). A significant and relevant association still remained (β = .10) after having controlled for all considered covariates. This association could be fully attributed to only one direction of WLC, namely the work-to-life conflict. In subsequent analyses, a clear gradient between this WLC direction and both types of MSD was found, and proved to be consistent for both men and women. Employees who were most exposed to such work-to-life conflict were also most at risk and showed a fivefold higher prevalence rate (19%-42%) and also an up to sixfold increased relative risk (OR = 3.8-6.3) of suffering greatly from these types of MSD compared with the least exposed reference group showing very low WLC in this direction. Including stress in the regression models again reduced the strength of the association significantly (OR = 1.9-4.1), giving an indication for a possible indirect effect of WLC on MSD mediated by stress.
Conclusion
Future research and workplace interventions for the prevention of MSD need to consider WLC as an important stressor, and the MSD risk factor identified in this study.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-60
PMCID: PMC3073966  PMID: 21410950
4.  The impact of gender and parenthood on physicians' careers - professional and personal situation seven years after graduation 
Background
The profile of the medical profession is changing in regard to feminization, attitudes towards the profession, and the lifestyle aspirations of young physicians. The issues addressed in this study are the careers of female and male physicians seven years after graduation and the impact of parenthood on career development.
Methods
Data reported originates from the fifth assessment (T5) of the prospective SwissMedCareer Study, beginning in 2001 (T1). At T5 in 2009, 579 residents (81.4% of the initial sample at T1) participated in the questionnaire survey. They were asked about occupational factors, career-related factors including specialty choice and workplace, work-life balance and life satisfaction. The impact of gender and parenthood on the continuous variables was investigated by means of multivariate and univariate analyses of variance; categorical variables were analyzed using Chi-square tests.
Results
Female physicians, especially those with children, have lower rates of employment and show lower values in terms of career success and career support experiences than male physicians. In addition, parenthood has a negative impact on these career factors. In terms of work-life balance aspired to, female doctors are less career-oriented and are more inclined to consider part-time work or to continue their professional career following a break to bring up a family. Parenthood means less career-orientation and more part-time orientation. As regards life satisfaction, females show higher levels of satisfaction overall, especially where friends, leisure activities, and income are concerned. Compared to their male colleagues, female physicians are less advanced in their specialty qualification, are less prone to choosing prestigious surgical fields, have a mentor less often, more often work at small hospitals or in private practice, aspire less often to senior hospital or academic positions and consider part-time work more often. Any negative impact on career path and advancement is exacerbated by parenthood, especially as far as women are concerned.
Conclusion
The results of the present study reflect socially-rooted gender role stereotypes. Taking into account the feminization of medicine, special attention needs to be paid to female physicians, especially those with children. At an early stage of their career, they should be advised to be more proactive in seeking mentoring and career-planning opportunities. If gender equity in terms of career chances is to be achieved, special career-support measures will have to be provided, such as mentoring programs, role models, flexitime and flexible career structures.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-40
PMCID: PMC2851709  PMID: 20167075
5.  Work-life conflict and associations with work- and nonwork-related factors and with physical and mental health outcomes: a nationally representative cross-sectional study in Switzerland 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:435.
Background
The aim of the present cross-sectional study was to examine work- and nonwork- related factors and physical and mental health outcomes associated with combined time- and strain-based work-life conflict (WLC) among adult employees living and working in Switzerland as well as possible gender differences in this regard.
Methods
The data used for the study were taken from wave 6 of the nationally representative Swiss Household Panel (SHP) collected in 2004. The analysis was restricted to 4'371 employees aged 20 to 64 years. Trivariate crosstabulations and multivariate linear and logistic regression analyses stratified by gender were performed in order to calculate gender-specific prevalence rates (%), beta coefficients (β) and crude as well as multiple adjusted odds ratios (OR) as measures of association.
Results
Every eighth person (12.5%) within the study population has a high or very high WLC score. Prevalence rates are clearly above average in men and women with higher education, in executive positions or managerial functions, in full-time jobs, with variable work schedules, regular overtime, long commuting time to work and job insecurity. Working overtime regularly, having variable work schedules and being in a management position are most strongly associated with WLC in men, whereas in women the level of employment is the strongest explanatory variable by far, followed by variable work schedules and high job status (managerial position). In both men and women, WLC is associated with several physical and mental health problems. Employees with high or very high WLC show a comparatively high relative risk of self-reported poor health, anxiety and depression, lack of energy and optimism, serious backache, headaches, sleep disorders and fatigue. While overall prevalence rate of (very) high WLC is higher in men than in women, associations between degrees of WLC and most health outcomes are stronger in women than in men.
Conclusion
This important issue which up to now has been largely neglected in public health research needs to be addressed in future public health research and, if the findings are confirmed by subsequent (longitudinal) studies, to be considered in workplace health promotion and interventions in Switzerland as elsewhere.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-435
PMCID: PMC2794864  PMID: 19943980

Results 1-5 (5)