Associations of psychosocial working conditions with self-rated general health and mental health among municipal employees

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Abstract

Objectives: To examine associations of job demands and job control, procedural and relational organizational fairness, and physical work load with self-rated general health and mental health. In addition, the effect of occupational class on these associations is examined. Methods: The data were derived from the Helsinki Health Study baseline surveys in 2001–2002. Respondents to cross-sectional postal surveys were middle-aged employees of the City of Helsinki (n=5.829, response rate 67%). Associations of job demands and job control, organizational fairness and physical work load with less than good self-rated health and poor GHQ-12 mental health were examined. Results: Those with the poorest working conditions two to three times more, often reported poor general and mental health than those with the best working conditions. Adjustment for occupational class weakened the associations of low job control and physical work load with general health by one fifth, but even more strengthened that of high job demands. Adjustment for occupational class clearly strengthened the associations of job control and physical work load with mental health in men. Mutual adjustment for all working conditions notably weakened their associations with both health measures, except those of job control in men. All working conditions except relational organizational fairness remained independently associated with general and mental health. Conclusions: All studied working conditions were strongly associated with both general and mental health but the associations weakened after mutual adjustments. Of the two organizational fairness measures, procedural fairness remained independently associated with both health outcomes. Adjustment for occupational class had essentially different effects on the associations of different working conditions and different health outcomes.