Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 259–277 | Cite as

Work Factors Related to Psychological and Health-Related Distress Among Employees with Chronic Illnesses

  • Fehmidah Munir
  • Joanna Yarker
  • Cheryl Haslam
  • Helen Long
  • Stavroula Leka
  • Amanda Griffiths
  • Sara Cox
Original Paper


Objective: This study examined specific psychosocial factors associated with psychological and health-related distress amongst employees reporting different chronic illnesses. Methods: The sample consisted of 1029 employees managing either musculoskeletal pain (n=324), arthritis and rheumatism (n=192), asthma (n=174), depression and anxiety (n=152), heart disease (n=96) or diabetes (n=91). Information on psychological distress, work limitations, illness management, disclosure, absence, presenteeism, support and demographic factors were obtained through self-administered questionnaires. Results: Both low psychological well-being and high health-related distress were associated with an increase in work limitations (β=0.20, SE=.03; and β=0.19, SE=.01, respectively), poorer management of illness symptoms at work (β=−0.17, SE=.12; and β=−0.13, SE=.02), high presentieesm (β=0.19, SE=.25; and β=0.14, SE=.05) and low workplace support (β=−0.05, SE=.22; and β=−0.12, SE=.05). Health-related distress was additionally associated with disclosure of illness at work (β=0.18, SE=.08) and long-term sickness absence (β=0.10, SE=.06). Conclusions: To enable individuals to effectively manage both their illness and their work without serious repercussions, it is important for both healthcare professionals and employers alike, to improve the well-being of workers with chronic illness by supporting and facilitating their efforts to over-come health-related limitations at work.


Chronic illness Psychological distress Health Work Employees 



This work was supported by a grant from the European Social Fund awarded to the first author during her employment at the Institute of Work, Health and Organisations (IWHO), University of Nottingham UK, where the work was carried out.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fehmidah Munir
    • 1
  • Joanna Yarker
    • 2
  • Cheryl Haslam
    • 1
  • Helen Long
    • 3
  • Stavroula Leka
    • 4
  • Amanda Griffiths
    • 4
  • Sara Cox
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Human Sciences, Brockington BuildingLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK
  2. 2.Goldsmiths CollegeUniversity of LondonNew CrossUK
  3. 3.Organisational Development TeamDepartment of Work and PensionsSheffieldUK
  4. 4.Institute of Work, Health & OrganisationsUniversity of Nottingham, University BoulevardNottinghamUK

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