Comparing working conditions and physical and psychological health complaints in four occupational groups working in female-dominated workplaces

  • Karina Nielsen
  • Karen Albertsen
  • Sten-Olof Brenner
  • Lars Smith-Hansen
  • Christian Roepsdorff
Original Article



Dominant theories of working conditions and their effects on poor employee health have been criticized for failing to consider how psychosocial factors interact and how such relationships may differ across occupational groups.


This paper examines the associations between psychosocial factors and physical and psychological health complaints while at the same time taking into account differences between occupational groups in female-dominated professions.


Four female-dominated occupational groups were included: nurses, health care assistants, cleaners, and dairy industry workers. The relationships between influence, emotional and quantitative demands, social support, back pain, and behavioural stress were examined using structural equation modelling.


Results supported a group-specific model: the overall pattern remained the same across groups while psychosocial factors had different impacts on poor health and interacted differently across groups. The results also indicated links between psychosocial factors and poor physical health.


The study confirmed the importance of differentiating between female-dominated occupations rather than talking about women’s working conditions as such. The study also emphasized the importance of considering psychosocial risk factors when examining physical health, in this case back pain.


Female-dominated occupations Multi-group analysis Structural equation modelling Back pain Psychosocial work environment Stress 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karina Nielsen
    • 1
  • Karen Albertsen
    • 1
  • Sten-Olof Brenner
    • 2
  • Lars Smith-Hansen
    • 1
  • Christian Roepsdorff
    • 1
  1. 1.The National Research Centre for the Working EnvironmentCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.The National Research Centre for the Working EnvironmentUniversity of KristianstadKristianstadSweden

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