International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 88–95 | Cite as

Work-life imbalance and mental health among male and female employees in Switzerland

  • Oliver HämmigEmail author
  • Georg Bauer
Original article



To investigate the prevalence and mental health effects of an unequal work-life balance (WLB) including potential gender differences.


A cross-sectional study based on a representative sample of the Swiss employed population aged 20 to 64 (women: n = 1661; men: n = 1591).


Based on a single-item measure, more than every seventh employee in Switzerland indicated major difficulties combining work and private life. In certain socio-demographic categories, up to 30% showed such work-life conflict (WLC). For both genders, work-life imbalance turned out to be a risk factor affecting mental health. Employees with self-reported WLC presented a significantly higher relative risk for poor self-rated health (women: aOR = 2.6/men: aOR = 2.0), negative emotions and depression (aOR = 3.0/3.1), low energy and optimism (aOR = 2.1/1.6), fatigue (aOR = 2.4/2.6), and sleep disorders (aOR = 1.8/1.5) compared to employees with no WLC.


Internationally, few data on the prevalence of WLC exist. In Switzerland, work-life imbalance is not a marginal phenomenon among the workforce and needs to be addressed as a notable public and mental health issue.


Work-life conflict Work-life balance Mental health Gender differences Switzerland 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Public and Organizational Health, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Center for Organizational and Occupational SciencesUniversity of Zurich, ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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