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Understanding the Role of Family-Specific Resources for Immigrant Workers


Very few studies to date have examined immigrant workers’ (i.e., workers who were not born in the United States) experiences of the work-family interface. In a sample of healthcare workers across two time points, the present study evaluates the role of different family-specific resources for immigrant workers compared to native-born workers (i.e., workers born in the U.S.). The results suggest that family-specific support from coworkers is especially beneficial for reducing immigrant workers’ experiences of family-to-work conflict. For both native-born and immigrant workers, those who experience more family-specific support from supervisors and coworkers, and those who work in an organization that does not expect workers to sacrifice their family or personal life for work (i.e., has perceptions of a positive organizational work-family climate), have lower work-to-family conflict and lower family-to-work conflict. Thus, family-specific support from coworkers, supervisors, and the organization have beneficial effects for workers, with coworker support being especially helpful for immigrant workers, which provides important insights for future work-family research and practice with increasingly diverse workforces.

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Data Availability

Regarding data availability, the authors are unable to share unrestricted data used in this paper because the data were collected as part of the Work, Family, and Health Study (WFHS) and are not public. Restricted data applications are available at

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If published, code could be made available upon request.


  1. Note that FSSB, work-family climate, work-family conflict and all controls were collected in the primary study survey and thus the sample size for these variables ranged from 1272 to 1524. In contrast, family supportive coworker behavior was collected in a secondary survey in participants’ homes and so this sample size is smaller (n = 256).

  2. Values do not sum to 100% because few participants entered “some other race” or “more than one race”.

  3. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were computed to determine whether multilevel modeling should be used because participants were nested within facilities. The ICCs were low for both 6-month WTFC (.02; F = 6910.53) and 6-month FTWC (.01; F = 14,107.10), so all reported results reflect ordinary least squares (OLS) regressions.

  4. Given that the FSCB models were based on a smaller sample, effects were also estimated in SPSS using 1000 bias-corrected bootstrapped samples. The results were substantively the same when bootstrapping was used (i.e., the interaction between FSCB and immigrant status on FTWC was retained, and there was not a significant interaction between FSCB and immigrant status on WTFC).


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This research was conducted as part of the Work, Family and Health Network (, which is funded by a cooperative agreement through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant # U01HD051217, U01HD051218, U01HD051256, U01HD051276), National Institute on Aging (Grant # U01AG027669), Office of Behavioral and Science Sciences Research, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Grant # U01OH008788, U01HD059773). Grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (R01HL107240), the William T. Grant Foundation, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Administration for Children and Families have provided additional funding. Faviola Robles-Saenz’s role in this research was supported by the Colorado State University College of Natural Sciences Faculty Support Grant. Rebecca Brossoit and Jacqueline R. Wong’s roles in this research were supported by the Mountain and Plains Education and Research Center, Grant T42OH009229, funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Portions of this research were also supported by the Grant #2 T03OH008435-16-00 awarded to Portland State University, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

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FR-S developed the initial research question and all authors contributed to the idea generation for this paper. LBH contributed to the study design and data collection. FRS wrote the first draft of the manuscript and RMB and TLC wrote other sections of the manuscript. Analyses were performed by RMB. All authors reviewed and commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Faviola Robles-Saenz.

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Robles-Saenz, F., Brossoit, R.M., Crain, T.L. et al. Understanding the Role of Family-Specific Resources for Immigrant Workers. Occup Health Sci 5, 541–562 (2021).

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  • Immigrant workers
  • Work-family
  • Work-family conflict
  • Coworker support