Synergistic interaction effect between job control and social support at work on general psychological distress

Bongkyoo Choi, Per Olof Östergren, Catarina Canivet, Mahnaz Moghadassi, Sara Lindeberg, Robert Karasek, Sven Olof Isacsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Little is known about the interaction between job control and social support at work on common mental disorders. To examine whether there is a synergistic interaction effect between job control and social support at work on general psychological distress and whether it differs by the level of job demands. Methods: About 1,940 male and female workers from the Malmö Shoulder and Neck Study were chosen for this cross-sectional study. Job control, social support at work, and job demands were measured by the Swedish version of the Job Content Questionnaire, and general psychological distress was assessed by the General Health Questionnaire. Results: A significant excessive risk increase for general psychological distress was observed when workers had both low job control and low social support at work in both men and women. The synergistic effect was stronger in women, when job demands were low (Rothman's synergy index was 2.16 vs. 1.51 when job demands were high). However, in male workers, while a strong synergistic effect between job control and social support at work was found when job demands were low (synergy index was 9.25), there was an antagonistic effect when job demands were high (synergy index was 0.52). Conclusions: There was a synergistic interaction effect between job control and social support at work on general psychological distress, but the synergistic effect or its effect size differed by the level of job demands and gender. An atomic, additive approach to the risk assessment of the psychosocial work characteristics on common mental disorders could be misleading or lead to a risk underestimation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Volume84
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Job demands
  • Psychosocial
  • Swedish
  • Synergy index
  • Work

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