Although it is understood that work-related factors, including job demands, job control, and workplace support, are associated with workers' health and well-being, the role played by personal characteristics, especially workaholism, has not been fully investigated. This study examined workaholism's associations with psychological ill health, low back pain with disability, and sickness absence among Japanese workers.
A cross-sectional Internet survey was conducted using self-administered questionnaires. Data from 3,899 Japanese workers were analyzed. Workaholism was measured using the Dutch Workaholism Scale (DUWAS). Scores were divided into tertiles, where respondents were classified into three groups (high, middle, and low). Depressive mood as a measure of psychological ill health was assessed using the SF-36 mental health subscale, and low back pain using a standardized question. Sickness absence, except that due to physical injuries, was categorized either as absence due to mental health problems or to physical/somatic problems including the common cold. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the association between workaholism and depressive mood, low back pain with disability, and sickness absence, adjusting for demographic characteristics, job demand, job control, and workplace support.
Compared to the low workaholism group, the middle and high workaholism groups had significantly higher odds for depressive mood (Odds ratio (OR) = 1.93 and 3.62 for the middle and high groups, respectively), disabling back pain (ORs = 1.36 and 1.77 for the middle and high groups, respectively). Workaholism was more strongly associated with sickness absence due to mental health problems than that for other reasons (ORs = 1.76 vs. 1.21 for the middle group and 3.52 vs. 1.37 for the high groups).
Workaholism is significantly associated with poor psychological health, disabling back pain, and sickness absence, particularly from mental health problems. Therefore, workaholism must be considered when addressing well-being of workers.