Proactive Responding to Anticipated Discrimination Based on Chronic Illness: Double-Edged Sword?
Proactive strategies for avoiding stigmatization may prevent work-related discrimination (Singletary and Hebl J Appl Psychol 94:797–805, 2009), yet these strategies may also cause strain in the stigmatized. We tested a model in which previous workplace discrimination experiences and anticipated future workplace discrimination related to proactive responses (compensatory behaviors and concealing behaviors), which, in turn, related to job tension.
Survey data were obtained from 332 workers with chronic illnesses. Structural equation modeling was used to test the proposed relationships.
Perceived previous discrimination directly related to anticipated future discrimination and indirectly related to compensatory and concealing behaviors. Anticipated discrimination directly related to compensatory and concealing behaviors, and indirectly related to job tension through compensatory behaviors. Compensatory behaviors were, but concealing behaviors were not, related to job tension.
Workers with chronic illness should be educated on ways to mitigate the negative effects of compensatory behaviors, including ensuring adequate opportunities to replenish resources. Organizations should provide assistance to these workers through Employee Assistance Programs or other types of job counseling. Organization leaders and supervisors have a responsibility to build an environment of acceptance for those with chronic illness in order to reduce potential discrimination.
While proactive strategies are effective in reducing negative outcomes of stigmatization, little research has explored their potential downsides. We highlight the “double-edged sword” nature of compensatory behaviors. In addition, while a large proportion of U.S. workers are managing chronic illness, this population is understudied.
KeywordsChronic illness Compensatory behaviors Discrimination Proactive coping Stigma
- Beatty, J. E. (2004). Chronic illness as invisible identity: Disclosure and coping with illness in the workplace. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Boston: Boston College.Google Scholar
- Brault, M. (2008). Americans with disabilities: 2005. Current population reports, P70-117, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC. http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p70-117.pdf.
- Browne, M. W., & Cudeck, R. (1993). Alternative ways of assessing model fit. In K. A. Bollen & J. S. Long (Eds.), Testing structural equation models (pp. 136–162). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Carlson, K. D., & Wu, J. (2012). The illusion of statistical control: Control variable practice in management research. Organizational Research Methods, 15, 415–435.Google Scholar
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011a). Rheumatoid arthritis. http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics.htm.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011b). FAQs about hepatitis B vaccine (Hep B) and multiple sclerosis. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccines/multiplesclerosis_and_hep_b.html.
- Cook, J. D., Hepworth, S. J., Wall, T. D., & Warr, P. B. (1981). The experience of work: A compendium of 249 measures and their use. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Crocker, J., Major, B., & Steele, C. (1998). Social stigma. In D. T. Gilbert & S. T. Fiske (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 504–553). Boston: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Derlega, V. J., Metts, S., Petronio, S., & Margulis, S. T. (1993). Self-disclosure. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Derogatis, L. R., & Spencer, P. M. (1983). The brief symptom inventory: Administration, scoring, and procedure manual-I. Baltimore: Clinical Psychometric Research.Google Scholar
- Fairweather, D., & Rose, N. R. (2004). Women and autoimmune diseases. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 10(11), 2005–2011. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/10/11/pdfs/04-0367.pdf.
- Fields, D. L. (2002). Taking the measure of work: A guide to validated scales for organizational research and diagnosis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- McMahon, B. T., & Shaw, L. R. (2005). Workplace discrimination and disability. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 23, 137–143.Google Scholar
- Miller, C. T., & Major, B. (2000). Coping with stigma and prejudice. In T. F. Heatherton, R. E. Kleck, M. R. Hebl, & J. G. Hull (Eds.), The social psychology of stigma (pp. 243–272). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2011). Mplus user’s guide (6th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
- Niehoff, B. P., & Moorman, R. H. (1993). Justice as a mediator of the relationship between methods of monitoring and organizational citizenship behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 36, 527–556.Google Scholar
- Swim, J. K., & Thomas, M. A. (2005). Responding to everyday discrimination: A synthesis of research on goal directed, self-regulatory coping behaviors. In S. Lavin & C. Van Laar (Eds.), Stigma and group inequality: Social psychological perspectives (pp. 105–126). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- U.S. Department of Justice. (March 15, 2011). Americans with disabilities act of 1990, as amended. http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.pdf.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2012a). Americans with disabilities act of 1990 (ADA) charges FY 1997 through FY 2012. http://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/ada-charges.cfm.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2012b). Charge statistics FY 1997 through FY 2012. http://www1.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/charges.cfm.