Publications by authors named "Maren Formazin"

6 Publications

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The Demand-Control Model as a Predictor of Depressive Symptoms-Interaction and Differential Subscale Effects: Prospective Analyses of 2212 German Employees.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2021 08 6;18(16). Epub 2021 Aug 6.

Department of Medical Psychology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin, 10317 Berlin, Germany.

Testing assumptions of the widely used demand-control (DC) model in occupational psychosocial epidemiology, we investigated (a) interaction, i.e., whether the combined effect of low job control and high psychological demands on depressive symptoms was stronger than the sum of their single effects (i.e., superadditivity) and (b) whether subscales of psychological demands and job control had similar associations with depressive symptoms. Logistic longitudinal regression analyses of the 5-year cohort of the German Study of Mental Health at Work (S-MGA) 2011/12-2017 of 2212 employees were conducted. The observed combined effect of low job control and high psychological demands on depressive symptoms did not indicate interaction (RERI = -0.26, 95% CI = -0.91; 0.40). When dichotomizing subscales at the median, differential effects of subscales were not found. When dividing subscales into categories based on value ranges, differential effects for job control subscales (namely, decision authority and skill discretion) were found ( = 0.04). This study does not support all assumptions of the DC model: (1) it corroborates previous studies not finding an interaction of psychological demands and job control; and (2) signs of differential subscale effects were found regarding job control. Too few prospective studies have been carried out regarding differential subscale effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168328DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8391232PMC
August 2021

Physical and psychosocial working conditions as predictors of 5-year changes in work ability among 2078 employees in Germany.

Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2022 Jan 27;95(1):153-168. Epub 2021 Jun 27.

University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 2A, 1353, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Objective: To examine 5-year prospective associations between working conditions and work ability among employees in Germany.

Methods: A cohort study (2011/2012-2017), based on a random sample of employees in employments subject to payment of social contributions aged 31-60 years (Study on Mental Health at Work; S-MGA; N = 2,078), included data on physical and quantitative demands, control (influence, possibilities for development, control over working time), relations (role clarity and leadership quality) and work ability (Work Ability Index, WAI; subscale 'subjective work ability and resources'). Data were analysed using linear regression.

Results: Physical demands and control were associated with small 5-year changes in work ability (ΔR = 1%). Among the subgroup of employees with ≥ 25 sickness days, possibilities for development, control and quality of leadership were associated with changes in work ability (ΔR = 8%).

Conclusions: The impact of working conditions on long term changes in work ability seems to be negligible. However, in vulnerable subpopulations experiencing poor health, working conditions may be associated to a larger extent to work ability over this time span.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00420-021-01716-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8755707PMC
January 2022

Factorial Validity of the Work Ability Index Among Employees in Germany.

J Occup Rehabil 2019 06;29(2):433-442

Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Nöldnerstr. 40-42, 10317, Berlin, Germany.

Purpose The Work Ability Index (WAI) is a routinely applied instrument for the assessment of work ability. It is a single score index, based on the implicit assumption of a single factor underlying the construct of work ability. The few studies with a focus on the WAI's factor structure are mainly based on non-representative samples. The objective of this study was to examine the factor structure of the WAI within a representative sample of employees working in Germany, applying analysis procedures that consider the metric of the variables. Methods Analyses are based on a nationwide representative sample of employees aged 31-60 years from the "Study on Mental Health at Work" (German: S-MGA). Responses from n = 3968 participants were used in confirmatory factor analyses comparing competing models of the structure underlying the WAI. Results The results of the analyses suggest that the intercorrelations between the indicators of the WAI are explained better by a model with two correlated factors than by a simple one-factor structure. A model solely allowing a single loading for each indicator fits the data well and allows for an easy interpretation of the two underlying factors. Conclusions There are two correlated factors underlying the WAI: one refers to "subjective work ability and resources", the other one can be considered a "health related factor".
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10926-018-9803-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6531402PMC
June 2019

Physical working conditions as covered in European monitoring questionnaires.

BMC Public Health 2017 06 5;17(1):544. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin (Federal Institute for Occupational Safety & Health), Department "Work & Health", Nöldnerstraße 40-42, 10317, Berlin, Germany.

Background: The prevalence of workers with demanding physical working conditions in the European work force remains high, and occupational physical exposures are considered important risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), a major burden for both workers and society. Exposures to physical workloads are therefore part of the European nationwide surveys to monitor working conditions and health. An interesting question is to what extent the same domains, dimensions and items referring to the physical workloads are covered in the surveys. The purpose of this paper is to determine 1) which domains and dimensions of the physical workloads are monitored in surveys at the national level and the EU level and 2) the degree of European consensus among these surveys regarding coverage of individual domains and dimensions.

Method: Items on physical workloads used in one European wide/Spanish and five other European nationwide work environment surveys were classified into the domains and dimensions they cover, using a taxonomy agreed upon among all participating partners.

Results: The taxonomy reveals that there is a modest overlap between the domains covered in the surveys, but when considering dimensions, the results indicate a lower agreement. The phrasing of items and answering categories differs between the surveys. Among the domains, the three domains covered by all surveys are "lifting, holding & carrying of loads/pushing & pulling of loads", "awkward body postures" and "vibrations". The three domains covered less well, that is only by three surveys or less, are "physical work effort", "working sitting", and "mixed exposure".

Conclusions: This is the fırst thorough overview to evaluate the coverage of domains and dimensions of self-reported physical workloads in a selection of European nationwide surveys. We hope the overview will provide input to the revisions and updates of the individual countries' surveys in order to enhance coverage of relevant domains and dimensions in all surveys and to increase the informational value of the surveys.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4465-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5460526PMC
June 2017

Methodological and conceptual issues regarding occupational psychosocial coronary heart disease epidemiology.

Scand J Work Environ Health 2016 05 9;42(3):251-5. Epub 2016 Mar 9.

Overview Psychosocial occupational epidemiology has mainly focused on the demand-control and, to a much lesser extent, the effort-reward-imbalance (ERI) models. These models and the strong focus on them raise some conceptual and methodological issues we will address in the following letter. The conceptual issues include the empirical confirmation of the assumptions of these models, the extent to which the focus on the demand-control and ERI models is warranted, and whether the sub-dimensions of the scales in these models have common health effects. We argue that there is a lack of empirical approval of (i) the assumptions behind both models and (ii) the focus on these models. The methodological issues include how exposure to job strain is categorized, how ERI previously has been measured, and the validity of self-reports of job strain. We argue that (i) a population independent definition of job strain is lacking, (ii) the older measurements of ERI mix exposure and effect, and (iii) we know little regarding the validity of the measurement of the psychosocial working environment. Finally, we suggest that analyses of monitoring data with a broader focus on the psychosocial working environment can be used to shed light to some of the issues raised above. Introduction In the last three decades (1, 2), psychosocial occupational epidemiology related to coronary heart disease (CHD) has mainly focused on the job-strain model, also referred to as the demand-control model (3, 4). In this model, two aspects of work are deemed relevant: demands and control. Negative consequences to health are to be expected when high demands are simultaneously present with low control. This combination has been termed job strain (3, 4). Recently, there has also been increased interest in the ERI model (5, 6) which considers the level of effort relative to rewards at work: an imbalance is present when the efforts outweigh the rewards (5, 6). In longitudinal studies of CHD, there has been only a limited focus on investigating occupational psychosocial factors outside of these two models (1, 2). In this letter, we would like to raise some conceptual and methodological issues which are inherent to these two stress models but also which arise from the heavy emphasis placed on them. Conceptual issues The conceptual issues we discuss below are empirical confirmation of the assumptions of these models and to what extent the focus on the demand-control and ERI models is warranted. Investigating the assumptions of the models Both the demand-control and the ERI models are based on assumptions which have only been tested empirically to a limited extent (1, 2). We pose three specific questions: (i) Does the interaction of demands and control constitute a risk factor for CHD? (ii) Does the imbalance between effort and reward explain more variance in CHD risk than high effort and low reward alone? (iii) Do the sub-dimensions of the scales in these models have common health effects? Regarding the interaction of demands and control. The concept of the demand-control model is useful when the health risk of being exposed to job strain (simultaneous high demands and low control) differs greatly from the sum of individual health risks of being exposed solely to high demands and low control. If this interaction were not present, it would be warranted to look separately at high demands and low control. This would for instance counteract overlooking those persons exposed to low control but not high demands (known as "passive work"; 3, 4). It should be emphasized that the interaction of demands and control has only been tested in very few - underpowered - cases (1, 2). Initial support for an interaction within the demand-control model can be tentatively derived from the work of the IPD-Work Consortium (7): In a reanalysis of an earlier study (8), it was shown that while neither demands nor job control alone (appendix to 8) predicted CHD, job strain did when controlling for sex, age and socioeconomic status (SES) (9). This indicates that an interaction takes place. Controlling for SES is of high relevance - otherwise, the results point in a different direction (10). However, a formal test of interaction was not performed on the IPD-Work Consortium data. Even the IPD study itself might not have sufficient statistical power to analyze a possible interaction directly: this requires many more observations than simply looking at the main effects (2). If one is interested in investigating an interaction, more incident outcomes are often required (11). Regarding effort-reward imbalance. Similarly to the combined effect of demands and control described above, focusing on the ERI model makes sense only if the imbalance of effort and reward explains the risk of CHD over and above the effect of high efforts and low rewards. To our knowledge, this has not been verified in any longitudinal study of CHD (1, 2). Regarding the effect of sub-dimensions. Finally, using the scales of the two models (demands and control or efforts and rewards) is meaningful only if the sub-dimensions of the scales all have about equal effect sizes and signs. For example, the scale psychological demands covers the sub-dimensions work pace, role conflict and work amount while control covers both influence (decision authority) and opportunities for development (skill discretion). Do these dimensions predict the risk of CHD to equal amounts within their respective scales? For now, this has not been tested elaborately to our knowledge (1, 2, 12). Consequently, it is possible that certain risk factors in the psychosocial work environment may be overlooked due to different risk factors being merged into one scale. Is the focus on the demand-control and ERI models warranted? In the past, longitudinal epidemiological research on psychosocial work characteristics and their association with the risk of CHD has mainly focused on the demand-control and - to a much lesser extent - ERI models (1). For example, in a recent review (2) covering 44 papers and including 170 analyses, 70% percent of those dealt with these models or sub-dimensions thereof. Interestingly, the demand-control model alone accounted for 66% of the analyses and ERI only 4%. A further 11% of the analyses dealt with working hours, 9% with social support, 5% with job insecurity, 3% with leadership and the remaining 3% covered conflicts, justice or predictability. Maintaining the currently high degree of focus on the DC and ERI models requires evidence that job strain and ERI are by far the most important risk factors for CHD. The review by Pejtersen et al (2) has additionally pointed out that of the 44 studies mentioned above, only two - an IPD-Work Consortium study (8) and a Swedish case-control study (13) - contained analyses with sufficient statistical power to detect an elevated CHD risk of 20%. These two sufficiently powered studies available as of April 2013 have led to the following conclusions: (i) job strain was found to be predictive of CHD in the IPD-Work Consortium study (8); and (ii) both low control and low social support predicted CHD in the Swedish study (13). Recently, a well-powered study on working hours (14) indicated that long working hours constitute a risk factor for CHD. Additionally, a recently published large study on job insecurity (15) is worth mentioning. While there was not sufficient power to detect a 20% increased risk due the relatively low prevalence of job insecurity, the study did have sufficient power to find a risk of 1.32 - which is the value actually found empirically (15). Summarizing the small number of well-powered studies available at this time indicates that both model dimensions (job strain) as well as non-model dimensions (social support and working hours) predict CHD (8, 13-15). In this context, one should bear in mind that the variety of possible dimensions that can be considered as constituting "psychosocial work environment" is large. The latter is exemplified by a recent analysis of the psychosocial content of seven European work environment monitoring questionnaires which showed that there are 34 distinct dimensions of the psychosocial work environment (16). Around half of these dimensions are not found in either the demand-control or ERI models (16). These include for instance emotional demands, demands on hiding emotions, sensorial demands, meaning of work, commitment to the workplace, organizational influence, trust, social community at work, quality of leadership, predictability, role clarity, restructuring, safety culture, work life balance, and negative acts (eg, violence, bullying). Little is currently known on the health effects of these "non-model" dimensions. Research on their possible effects might show that they are small - and that the DC and ERI dimensions are indeed the main psychosocial risk factors for CHD. However, results may also point to the importance of the non-model dimensions. To date, this remains to be investigated. Methodological issues In addition to the conceptual issues discussed above, we would like to highlight some methodological issues related to one or both of these models. The three main points address: (i) how exposure to job strain is categorized; (ii) how ERI has been measured up to now; and (iii) the validity of self-reports of job strain. Practical definition of job strain Job strain is usually operationalized as a median split of the two dimensions demands and control in the population investigated (3, 17). Hence, whether a certain worker experiences job strain or not depends on which other workers are part of the sample (18). This poses a problem when the distributions of demands and control differ between populations. Comparisons between Denmark and Spain and across Europe suggest that such differences exist (19, 20), rendering it at the least a challenge to combine populations in meta-analyses. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3557DOI Listing
May 2016

Dimensional comparability of psychosocial working conditions as covered in European monitoring questionnaires.

BMC Public Health 2014 Dec 9;14:1251. Epub 2014 Dec 9.

Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin (Federal Institute for Occupational Safety & Health), Department "Work & Health", Nöldnerstraße 40-42, 10317 Berlin, Germany.

Background: In most countries in the EU, national surveys are used to monitor working conditions and health. Since the development processes behind the various surveys are not necessarily theoretical, but certainly practical and political, the extent of similarity among the dimensions covered in these surveys has been unclear. Another interesting question is whether prominent models from scientific research on work and health are present in the surveys--bearing in mind that the primary focus of these surveys is on monitoring status and trends, not on mapping scientific models. Moreover, it is relevant to know which other scales and concepts not stemming from these models have been included in the surveys. The purpose of this paper is to determine (1) the similarity of dimensions covered in the surveys included and (2) the congruence of dimensions of scientific research and of dimensions present in the monitoring systems.

Method: Items from surveys representing six European countries and one European wide survey were classified into the dimensions they cover, using a taxonomy agreed upon among all involved partners from the six countries.

Results: The classification reveals that there is a large overlap of dimensions, albeit not in the formulation of items, covered in the seven surveys. Among the available items, the two prominent work-stress-models--job-demand-control-support-model (DCS) and effort-reward-imbalance-model (ERI)--are covered in most surveys even though this has not been the primary aim in the compilation of these surveys. In addition, a large variety of items included in the surveillance systems are not part of these models and are--at least partly--used in nearly all surveys. These additional items reflect concepts such as "restructuring", "meaning of work", "emotional demands" and "offensive behaviour/violence & harassment".

Conclusions: The overlap of the dimensions being covered in the various questionnaires indicates that the interests of the parties deciding on the questionnaires in the different countries overlap. The large number of dimensions measured in the questionnaires and not being part of the DCS and ERI models is striking. These "new" dimensions could inspire the research community to further investigate their possible health and labour market effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-1251DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295265PMC
December 2014
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