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October 2021

Differences in the association between psychosocial work conditions and physical work load in female- and male-dominated occupations. MUSIC- Norrtalje Study Group

Author(s): Pernold, G., Ahlberg-Hulten, G., Harenstam, A., Theorell, T., Vingard, E., Waldenstrom, M., Hjelm, E. W.

Journal/Book: Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1999; 60: 673-8.

Abstract: This study investigated whether there is a relationship between high physical work load and adverse psychosocial work factors, and whether this relationship is different for women and men. Separate analyses for female registered nurses and assistant nurses were made because these are common occupations involving high physical and psychological demands. This study was part of the MUSIC-Norrtalje study, a population study with the overall aim of identifying risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders. The respondents, 1423 gainfully employed men and women, were randomly selected from the study population. The exposure assessments referred to a typical workday during the previous 12 months. Physical exposure was investigated by interview, psychosocial work factors by interview and questionnaire. For the women, but not the men, mainly routine work and a job strain situation, according to the model of Karasek and Theorell, increased the probability of having a high physical work load, assessed as a time- weighted average of energy expenditure in multiples of the resting metabolic rate. Results indicated that in female-dominated occupations, high physical work load might also imply adverse psychosocial conditions. A higher frequency of high physical work load and job strain was observed among assistant nurses compared with registered nurses. Covariance between physical and psychosocial demands makes it difficult to determine the relative influence of each in health problems. Results of the present study imply that this is a larger problem in studies of women than men.

Keyword(s): Adult. Data Collection/methods. Exertion. Female. Human. Logistic Models. Male. Middle Age. Musculoskeletal Diseases/epidemiology/psychology. Occupational Diseases/epidemiology/psychology. Occupations. Risk Factors. Social Environment. Support, Non-U.S. Gov't. Sweden/epidemiology. Workload

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