Psychosocial working conditions and exhaustion in a working population sample of Swedish middle-aged men and women

Sara I. Lindeberg, Maria Rosvall, Bong Kyoo Choi, Catarina Canivet, Sven Olof Isacsson, Robert Karasek, Per Olof Östergren

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46 Scopus citations


Background: Exhaustion is a concept of interest for both occupational health research and stress-disease theory research. The aim of the present study was to explore associations between chronic stressors, in terms of psychosocial working conditions, and exhaustion in a Swedish middle-aged population sample. Methods: A vocationally active population sample of the Malmö Shoulder and Neck Study cohort, comprising 2555 men and 2466 women between 45 and 64 years of age, was used. Psychosocial working conditions, assessed by means of the demand-control-support model, were measured longitudinally with a 1-year interval. Exhaustion was assessed by the SF-36 vitality scale and measured at follow-up, yielding a cross-sectional study design. Results: Exhaustion was twice as common in women as in men. High psychological job demands, low job control and low job support were independently associated with exhaustion in both men and women. These associations remained after controlling for a variety of potential confounders and mediators, including socio-demographic factors, lifestyle factors, musculoskeletal pain, disease, other work-related factors (including physical workload) and non-work-related factors. High demands in combination with low control (job strain), and job strain combined with low job support (iso-strain), increased the risk for exhaustion. Conclusion: Psychosocial working conditions seem to contribute to exhaustion in middle-aged men and women. Future research should include exploration of exhaustion as a possible mediator between work stress and disease, as well as exploration of other chronic stressors, including non-work-related stressors, regarding their effects on exhaustion in men and women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-196
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • chronic stress
  • demand-control-support model
  • exhaustion


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