Publications by authors named "Wendela Hooftman"

22 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Working from home: mismatch between access and need in relation to work-home interference and fatigue.

Scand J Work Environ Health 2021 Nov 29;47(8):619-627. Epub 2021 Oct 29.

Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Department of Public and Occupational Health Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Objectives: Working from home (WfH) is a promising practice that may enable employees to successfully and sustainably combine work and private life. Yet, not every employer facilitates WfH and not every employee has similar needs concerning the practice. The current study aims to examine the association of a WfH mismatch with work-home interference (WHI) and fatigue.

Methods: Data on WfH, WHI, and fatigue of a quasi-representative sample of 2374 Dutch employees in 2012/13 and a follow-up measurement one year later were used. Cross-sectional and longitudinal regression analyses were conducted to investigate the cross-sectional and temporal associations between WfH mismatch on the one hand and (changes in) time-based and strain-based WHI and fatigue on the other hand.

Results: In the cross-sectional analyses, WfH mismatch was significantly associated with higher time-based WHI (B=0.13), strain-based WHI (B=0.17) and more fatigue (B=0.32). WfH mismatch was not associated with changes in these outcomes after one year of follow-up.

Conclusions: A tailored WfH organizational policy, in which employees' need for working from home is taken into account, may be a fruitful approach to utilize WfH as a way for employees to successfully and sustainably combine work and private life to its full potential.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.3983DOI Listing
November 2021

Sedentary work and participation in leisure-time physical activity.

Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2021 Sep 15. Epub 2021 Sep 15.

Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, 6525 GD, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Objective: Demanding psychosocial work characteristics, such as high job demands, can have a detrimental impact on leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), with adverse consequences for employee health and well-being. However, the mechanisms and moderators of this crossover effect are still largely unknown. We therefore aimed to identify and test potential mediating and moderating factors from within and outside the work environment. Based on the previous research, we expected job demands to be negatively related to LTPA through fatigue. In addition, we expected that job control and worktime control would attenuate the relationship between job demands and fatigue. Furthermore, we hypothesized that autonomous exercise motivation and spontaneous action planning would attenuate the relationship between fatigue and LTPA. In addition to these cross-sectional hypotheses, we expected the same effects to predict a change in LTPA in the following year.

Methods: To investigate these assumptions, a preregistered longitudinal survey study was conducted among a large sample of Dutch employees in sedentary jobs. Participants reported on the constructs of interest in 2017 and 2018 (N = 1189 and 665 respectively) and the resulting data were analyzed using path analyses.

Results: Our cross-sectional analyses confirm a weak indirect, negative association between job demands and LTPA, via fatigue. However, this finding was not observed in our longitudinal analyses and none of the other hypotheses were confirmed.

Conclusion: This study shows that, among employees with relatively healthy psychosocial work characteristics (i.e., high job control), the evidence for an impact of these work characteristics on participation in LTPA is limited.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00420-021-01750-7DOI Listing
September 2021

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

Long working hours and cancer risk: a multi-cohort study.

Br J Cancer 2016 Mar 18;114(7):813-8. Epub 2016 Feb 18.

Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm SE-106 91, Sweden.

Background: Working longer than the maximum recommended hours is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but the relationship of excess working hours with incident cancer is unclear.

Methods: This multi-cohort study examined the association between working hours and cancer risk in 116 462 men and women who were free of cancer at baseline. Incident cancers were ascertained from national cancer, hospitalisation and death registers; weekly working hours were self-reported.

Results: During median follow-up of 10.8 years, 4371 participants developed cancer (n colorectal cancer: 393; n lung cancer: 247; n breast cancer: 833; and n prostate cancer: 534). We found no clear evidence for an association between working hours and the overall cancer risk. Working hours were also unrelated the risk of incident colorectal, lung or prostate cancers. Working ⩾55 h per week was associated with 1.60-fold (95% confidence interval 1.12-2.29) increase in female breast cancer risk independently of age, socioeconomic position, shift- and night-time work and lifestyle factors, but this observation may have been influenced by residual confounding from parity.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that working long hours is unrelated to the overall cancer risk or the risk of lung, colorectal or prostate cancers. The observed association with breast cancer would warrant further research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/bjc.2016.9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4984872PMC
March 2016

The Relationship of On-Call Work with Fatigue, Work-Home Interference, and Perceived Performance Difficulties.

Biomed Res Int 2015 19;2015:643413. Epub 2015 Oct 19.

Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, Montessorilaan 3, 6525 HR Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Objectives: This study examined the relationship between on-call duty exposure (active and total on-call hours a month, number of calls per duty) and employees' experiences of being on-call (stress due to unpredictability, ability to relax during inactive on-call periods, restrictions during on-call duties, on-call work demands, and satisfaction with compensation for on-call duties) on the one hand and fatigue, strain-based and time-based work-home interference (WHI), and perceived on-call performance difficulties (PPD) on the other hand.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey data were collected among a large heterogeneous sample of Dutch employees (N = 5437). The final sample consisted of 157 on-call workers (23-69 years, 71% males). Data were analyzed by means of hierarchical regression analyses (controlling for age and job characteristics).

Results: Differences in on-call work exposure were not systematically related to fatigue, WHI, and PPD (all p's >0.50). The experience of being on-call explained a medium proportion of the variation in fatigue and strain-based WHI and a medium to large proportion of the variation in time-based WHI and PPD over and above the control variables.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that it is employees' experience of being on-call, especially the experience of stress due to the unpredictability, rather than the amount of exposure, that is related to fatigue, WHI, and perceived on-call performance difficulties.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/643413DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4628979PMC
August 2016

Long working hours and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished data for 603,838 individuals.

Lancet 2015 Oct 19;386(10005):1739-46. Epub 2015 Aug 19.

National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark; Department of Public Health and Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Background: Long working hours might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but prospective evidence is scarce, imprecise, and mostly limited to coronary heart disease. We aimed to assess long working hours as a risk factor for incident coronary heart disease and stroke.

Methods: We identified published studies through a systematic review of PubMed and Embase from inception to Aug 20, 2014. We obtained unpublished data for 20 cohort studies from the Individual-Participant-Data Meta-analysis in Working Populations (IPD-Work) Consortium and open-access data archives. We used cumulative random-effects meta-analysis to combine effect estimates from published and unpublished data.

Findings: We included 25 studies from 24 cohorts in Europe, the USA, and Australia. The meta-analysis of coronary heart disease comprised data for 603,838 men and women who were free from coronary heart disease at baseline; the meta-analysis of stroke comprised data for 528,908 men and women who were free from stroke at baseline. Follow-up for coronary heart disease was 5·1 million person-years (mean 8·5 years), in which 4768 events were recorded, and for stroke was 3·8 million person-years (mean 7·2 years), in which 1722 events were recorded. In cumulative meta-analysis adjusted for age, sex, and socioeconomic status, compared with standard hours (35-40 h per week), working long hours (≥55 h per week) was associated with an increase in risk of incident coronary heart disease (relative risk [RR] 1·13, 95% CI 1·02-1·26; p=0·02) and incident stroke (1·33, 1·11-1·61; p=0·002). The excess risk of stroke remained unchanged in analyses that addressed reverse causation, multivariable adjustments for other risk factors, and different methods of stroke ascertainment (range of RR estimates 1·30-1·42). We recorded a dose-response association for stroke, with RR estimates of 1·10 (95% CI 0·94-1·28; p=0·24) for 41-48 working hours, 1·27 (1·03-1·56; p=0·03) for 49-54 working hours, and 1·33 (1·11-1·61; p=0·002) for 55 working hours or more per week compared with standard working hours (ptrend<0·0001).

Interpretation: Employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours; the association with coronary heart disease is weaker. These findings suggest that more attention should be paid to the management of vascular risk factors in individuals who work long hours.

Funding: Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, European Union New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Safety and Health research programme, Finnish Work Environment Fund, Swedish Research Council for Working Life and Social Research, German Social Accident Insurance, Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Academy of Finland, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (Netherlands), US National Institutes of Health, British Heart Foundation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60295-1DOI Listing
October 2015

Job strain and the risk of stroke: an individual-participant data meta-analysis.

Stroke 2015 Feb 6;46(2):557-9. Epub 2015 Jan 6.

From the Department of Natural Science and Biomedicine, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden (E.I.F.); Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden (E.I.F., L.A.); Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden (E.I.F., C.L., L.L.M.H., T.T., H.W.); Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Tampere, Finland (S.T.N., K.H.); Centre for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden (L.A.); National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark (J.B.B., I.E.H.M., R.R.); Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark (M.B., M.L.N.); Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), Berlin, Germany (H.B.); Institute for Medical Sociology, Medical Faculty, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany (N.D., T.L.); Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Hoofddorp, Netherlands (G.A.G., W.E.H., I.L.H.); Versailles-Saint Quentin University, Versailles, France (M.G., M.Z.); Inserm, Population-based Epidemiologic Cohorts Unit, UMS 011, Villejuif, France (M.G., M.Z.); Inserm U1018, Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Villejuif, France (A.S.-M.); Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK (M.H., M. Kumari, M.J.S., A.S., A.B., E.J.B., A.S.-M., G.D.B., M. Kivimäki); Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland (M. Joensuu, A. Koskinen, S.T.-T., M.V., A.V., M. Kivimäki); Institute of Behavioural Sciences (M. Jokela, M. Kivimäki) and Department of Public Health (M. Koskenvuo), University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland; Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden (A. Knutsson); Department of Psychology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden (M.N.); Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Turku, Finland (T.O., J.P., P.S., J.V.); Danish National

Background And Purpose: Psychosocial stress at work has been proposed to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, its role as a risk factor for stroke is uncertain.

Methods: We conducted an individual-participant-data meta-analysis of 196 380 males and females from 14 European cohort studies to investigate the association between job strain, a measure of work-related stress, and incident stroke.

Results: In 1.8 million person-years at risk (mean follow-up 9.2 years), 2023 first-time stroke events were recorded. The age- and sex-adjusted hazard ratio for job strain relative to no job strain was 1.24 (95% confidence interval, 1.05;1.47) for ischemic stroke, 1.01 (95% confidence interval, 0.75;1.36) for hemorrhagic stroke, and 1.09 (95% confidence interval, 0.94;1.26) for overall stroke. The association with ischemic stroke was robust to further adjustment for socioeconomic status.

Conclusion: Job strain may be associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke, but further research is needed to determine whether interventions targeting job strain would reduce stroke risk beyond existing preventive strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.008019DOI Listing
February 2015

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

Work stress and risk of cancer: meta-analysis of 5700 incident cancer events in 116,000 European men and women.

BMJ 2013 Feb 7;346:f165. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, 00250 Helsinki, Finland.

Objective: To investigate whether work related stress, measured and defined as job strain, is associated with the overall risk of cancer and the risk of colorectal, lung, breast, or prostate cancers.

Design: Meta-analysis of pooled prospective individual participant data from 12 European cohort studies including 116,056 men and women aged 17-70 who were free from cancer at study baseline and were followed-up for a median of 12 years. Work stress was measured and defined as job strain, which was self reported at baseline. Incident cancers (all n=5765, colorectal cancer n=522, lung cancer n=374, breast cancer n=1010, prostate cancer n=865) were ascertained from cancer, hospital admission, and death registers. Data were analysed in each study with Cox regression and the study specific estimates pooled in meta-analyses. Models were adjusted for age, sex, socioeconomic position, body mass index (BMI), smoking, and alcohol intake

Results: A harmonised measure of work stress, high job strain, was not associated with overall risk of cancer (hazard ratio 0.97, 95% confidence interval 0.90 to 1.04) in the multivariable adjusted analyses. Similarly, no association was observed between job strain and the risk of colorectal (1.16, 0.90 to 1.48), lung (1.17, 0.88 to 1.54), breast (0.97, 0.82 to 1.14), or prostate (0.86, 0.68 to 1.09) cancers. There was no clear evidence for an association between the categories of job strain and the risk of cancer.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that work related stress, measured and defined as job strain, at baseline is unlikely to be an important risk factor for colorectal, lung, breast, or prostate cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f165DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3567204PMC
February 2013

Job strain as a risk factor for leisure-time physical inactivity: an individual-participant meta-analysis of up to 170,000 men and women: the IPD-Work Consortium.

Am J Epidemiol 2012 Dec 9;176(12):1078-89. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Box 210, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.

Unfavorable work characteristics, such as low job control and too high or too low job demands, have been suggested to increase the likelihood of physical inactivity during leisure time, but this has not been verified in large-scale studies. The authors combined individual-level data from 14 European cohort studies (baseline years from 1985-1988 to 2006-2008) to examine the association between unfavorable work characteristics and leisure-time physical inactivity in a total of 170,162 employees (50% women; mean age, 43.5 years). Of these employees, 56,735 were reexamined after 2-9 years. In cross-sectional analyses, the odds for physical inactivity were 26% higher (odds ratio = 1.26, 95% confidence interval: 1.15, 1.38) for employees with high-strain jobs (low control/high demands) and 21% higher (odds ratio = 1.21, 95% confidence interval: 1.11, 1.31) for those with passive jobs (low control/low demands) compared with employees in low-strain jobs (high control/low demands). In prospective analyses restricted to physically active participants, the odds of becoming physically inactive during follow-up were 21% and 20% higher for those with high-strain (odds ratio = 1.21, 95% confidence interval: 1.11, 1.32) and passive (odds ratio = 1.20, 95% confidence interval: 1.11, 1.30) jobs at baseline. These data suggest that unfavorable work characteristics may have a spillover effect on leisure-time physical activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aje/kws336DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3521479PMC
December 2012

Job strain as a risk factor for coronary heart disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of individual participant data.

Lancet 2012 Oct 14;380(9852):1491-7. Epub 2012 Sep 14.

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.

Background: Published work assessing psychosocial stress (job strain) as a risk factor for coronary heart disease is inconsistent and subject to publication bias and reverse causation bias. We analysed the relation between job strain and coronary heart disease with a meta-analysis of published and unpublished studies.

Methods: We used individual records from 13 European cohort studies (1985-2006) of men and women without coronary heart disease who were employed at time of baseline assessment. We measured job strain with questions from validated job-content and demand-control questionnaires. We extracted data in two stages such that acquisition and harmonisation of job strain measure and covariables occurred before linkage to records for coronary heart disease. We defined incident coronary heart disease as the first non-fatal myocardial infarction or coronary death.

Findings: 30,214 (15%) of 197,473 participants reported job strain. In 1·49 million person-years at risk (mean follow-up 7·5 years [SD 1·7]), we recorded 2358 events of incident coronary heart disease. After adjustment for sex and age, the hazard ratio for job strain versus no job strain was 1·23 (95% CI 1·10-1·37). This effect estimate was higher in published (1·43, 1·15-1·77) than unpublished (1·16, 1·02-1·32) studies. Hazard ratios were likewise raised in analyses addressing reverse causality by exclusion of events of coronary heart disease that occurred in the first 3 years (1·31, 1·15-1·48) and 5 years (1·30, 1·13-1·50) of follow-up. We noted an association between job strain and coronary heart disease for sex, age groups, socioeconomic strata, and region, and after adjustments for socioeconomic status, and lifestyle and conventional risk factors. The population attributable risk for job strain was 3·4%.

Interpretation: Our findings suggest that prevention of workplace stress might decrease disease incidence; however, this strategy would have a much smaller effect than would tackling of standard risk factors, such as smoking.

Funding: Finnish Work Environment Fund, the Academy of Finland, the Swedish Research Council for Working Life and Social Research, the German Social Accident Insurance, the Danish National Research Centre for the Working Environment, the BUPA Foundation, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the US National Institutes of Health.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60994-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3486012PMC
October 2012

Job strain and alcohol intake: a collaborative meta-analysis of individual-participant data from 140,000 men and women.

PLoS One 2012 6;7(7):e40101. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.

Background: The relationship between work-related stress and alcohol intake is uncertain. In order to add to the thus far inconsistent evidence from relatively small studies, we conducted individual-participant meta-analyses of the association between work-related stress (operationalised as self-reported job strain) and alcohol intake.

Methodology And Principal Findings: We analysed cross-sectional data from 12 European studies (n = 142 140) and longitudinal data from four studies (n = 48 646). Job strain and alcohol intake were self-reported. Job strain was analysed as a binary variable (strain vs. no strain). Alcohol intake was harmonised into the following categories: none, moderate (women: 1-14, men: 1-21 drinks/week), intermediate (women: 15-20, men: 22-27 drinks/week) and heavy (women: >20, men: >27 drinks/week). Cross-sectional associations were modelled using logistic regression and the results pooled in random effects meta-analyses. Longitudinal associations were examined using mixed effects logistic and modified Poisson regression. Compared to moderate drinkers, non-drinkers and (random effects odds ratio (OR): 1.10, 95% CI: 1.05, 1.14) and heavy drinkers (OR: 1.12, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.26) had higher odds of job strain. Intermediate drinkers, on the other hand, had lower odds of job strain (OR: 0.92, 95% CI: 0.86, 0.99). We found no clear evidence for longitudinal associations between job strain and alcohol intake.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that compared to moderate drinkers, non-drinkers and heavy drinkers are more likely and intermediate drinkers less likely to report work-related stress.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0040101PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3391232PMC
March 2013

Job strain and tobacco smoking: an individual-participant data meta-analysis of 166,130 adults in 15 European studies.

PLoS One 2012 6;7(7):e35463. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.

Background: Tobacco smoking is a major contributor to the public health burden and healthcare costs worldwide, but the determinants of smoking behaviours are poorly understood. We conducted a large individual-participant meta-analysis to examine the extent to which work-related stress, operationalised as job strain, is associated with tobacco smoking in working adults.

Methodology And Principal Findings: We analysed cross-sectional data from 15 European studies comprising 166,130 participants. Longitudinal data from six studies were used. Job strain and smoking were self-reported. Smoking was harmonised into three categories never, ex- and current. We modelled the cross-sectional associations using logistic regression and the results pooled in random effects meta-analyses. Mixed effects logistic regression was used to examine longitudinal associations. Of the 166,130 participants, 17% reported job strain, 42% were never smokers, 33% ex-smokers and 25% current smokers. In the analyses of the cross-sectional data, current smokers had higher odds of job strain than never-smokers (age, sex and socioeconomic position-adjusted odds ratio: 1.11, 95% confidence interval: 1.03, 1.18). Current smokers with job strain smoked, on average, three cigarettes per week more than current smokers without job strain. In the analyses of longitudinal data (1 to 9 years of follow-up), there was no clear evidence for longitudinal associations between job strain and taking up or quitting smoking.

Conclusions: Our findings show that smokers are slightly more likely than non-smokers to report work-related stress. In addition, smokers who reported work stress smoked, on average, slightly more cigarettes than stress-free smokers.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0035463PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3391192PMC
March 2013

Can workers with chronic back pain shift from pain elimination to function restore at work? Qualitative evaluation of an innovative work related multidisciplinary programme.

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil 2009 ;22(2):65-73

Work&Employment, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.

Introduction: Workers with chronic low back pain (LBP) mean a heavy human and social-economic burden. Their medical histories often include different treatments without attention to work-relatedness or communication with occupational health providers, leaving them passive and medicalized in (outpatient) health care. So we developed and implemented an innovative, patient-activating alternative: the multidisciplinary outpatient care (MOC) programme, including work(place) intervention and graded activity. It aims at function restore (instead of pain elimination), return to work (RTW) and coordinated communication.

Objectives: To qualitatively explore how patients and health care providers perceive the programme effectiveness and which factors influence its implementation.

Methods: In-depth, semi structured interview with patients and focus groups of health care providers are used, all recorded, transformed into verbatim transcript and analysed.

Results: This qualitative study shows that although patients' expectations were low at the start of the program, and despite long LBP histories, including many different therapies, (primarily) directed at pain reduction, the MOC programme was successful in changing patients' goal setting from pain oriented towards function restore and RTW. The programme was therefore perceived as applicable and effective. Patient compliance was influenced by barriers - despair, supervisory and subordinate resistance at work, waiting period, medicalisation in health care - and facilitators: disciplinary motivation, protocolled communication, information supply, tailor-made exercises. For some patients the barriers were too high. Several improvement suggestions were given.

Conclusions: This qualitative study shows that generally, patients and professionals perceived the multidisciplinary outpatient care programme as applicable and effective. After incorporating improvement suggestions this program seems promising for further, broader application and hypothesis testing. For those, negatively evaluating the programme, alternatives should be explored.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/BMR-2009-0215DOI Listing
April 2010

Productivity loss at work; health-related and work-related factors.

J Occup Rehabil 2010 Sep;20(3):331-9

TNO Quality of Life/Work and Employment, P.O. Box 718, 2130 AS, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.

Introduction: Productivity loss is an increasing problem in an aging working population that is decreasing in numbers. The aim of this study is to identify work-related and health-related characteristics associated with productivity loss, due to either sickness absence or reduced performance at work.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, data of the Netherlands Working Conditions Survey of 2007 were used, which includes a national representative sample of 22,759 employees aged 15 to 64 years. Demographic characteristics, health-related and work-related factors were assessed with a questionnaire. Logistic regression analyses were carried out to study the relationship of work-related and health-related factors with low performance at work and sickness absence in the past 12 months.

Results: Poor general health, the number of longstanding health conditions, and most types of longstanding health conditions were associated with productivity loss. Health-related factors were in general stronger associated with sickness absence than with low performance at work. Performance: poor health OR 1.54 CI 1.38-1.71, >1 health conditions OR 1.21 CI 1.09-1.35; sickness absence: poor health OR 2.62 CI 2.33-2.93, >1 health conditions OR 2.47 CI 2.21-2.75. Of the different types of longstanding health conditions, only psychological complaints and to a small extent musculoskeletal symptoms, were associated with low performance (respectively OR 1.54 CI 1.27-1.87; OR 1.09 CI 1.00-1.18). Low performance at work was less likely among employees with high physically demanding work (shift work OR 0.70 CI 0.63-0.76, using force OR 0.78 CI 0.72-0.84, and repetitive movements OR 0.74 CI 0.70-0.79). Psychosocial factors were stronger associated with low performance at work than with sickness absence (performance: job autonomy OR 1.28 CI 1.21-1.37, job demands OR 1.23 CI 1.16-1.31, emotionally demanding work OR 1.73 CI 1.62-1.85; sickness absence: job autonomy ns, job demands OR 1.09 CI 1.03-1.17, emotionally demanding work OR 1.09 CI 1.02-1.16).

Conclusion: Except for psychological complaints, workers with a longstanding health condition generally perform well while being at work. Nevertheless, the likelihood of taking sick leave is increased. Among work-related factors, psychosocial work characteristics have the strongest relation with productivity loss, mostly with performance while at work.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10926-009-9219-7DOI Listing
September 2010

Work-related fatigue: the specific case of highly educated women in the Netherlands.

Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2010 Mar 4;83(3):309-21. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Caphri, Social Medicine, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 40, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Purpose: This study aims to establish the prevalence of high work-related fatigue (need for recovery, NFR) among employees and to explain group differences categorized by gender, age, and education. The study particularly aims to clarify prevalence and explanatory factors in highly educated women.

Methods: In 2005 and 2006, large representative samples of 80,000 Dutch employees (net response rate 33.0%; N = 47,263) received the Netherlands working conditions survey questionnaire. First, we calculated the prevalence of high NFR for men and women with different age and education levels. The average prevalence of high NFR was 28.8% and was highest among highly educated women (35.2%) in particular those aged 50-64 years (40.3%). Second, logistic regression analyses were used to compare subgroups' NFR in relation to situational factors, working conditions, and health. Three comparisons were made: (1) highly educated women versus men; (2) highly educated versus lower educated women and; (3) older highly educated versus younger highly educated women.

Results: The situational, working conditions and health factors in our model did not explain the gender differences among highly educated employees (OR = 1.37; CI = 1.3-1.5, adjusted for all factors OR = 1.32; CI = 1.2-1.5). Despite that lower autonomy and workplace violence explained highly educated women's NFR, working fewer hours counterbalanced this. Time pressure in work largely explained the differences in NFR among women at different education levels (crude OR 1.44; CI = 1.4-1.5, adjusted OR 1.14; CI = 1.0-1.3). In the age comparison, lower health ratings, more adverse working conditions, and working as a teacher explained older highly educated women's high prevalence of high NFR (crude OR 1.32; CI = 1.2-1.5, adjusted OR 0.94; CI = 0.8-1.2).

Conclusion: NFR has high prevalence in highly educated women (35.2%) in particular those aged 50-64 years (40.3%). Our model did not explain gender differences in NFR, because working fewer hours counterbalanced the effects of lower autonomy and external workplace violence. Our model, in particular time pressure, largely explained differences in NFR between women at different education levels. Age differences in the prevalence of high NFR among highly educated women's were fully explained by our model. Main factors were lower health ratings, adverse working conditions, and working as a teacher.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00420-009-0481-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820214PMC
March 2010

Equal task, equal exposure? Are men and women with the same tasks equally exposed to awkward working postures?

Ergonomics 2009 Sep;52(9):1079-86

Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The aim of the study was to determine whether men and woman with equal tasks perform these tasks in the same way. Video recordings of 37 male and 43 female workers in six task groups were observed, from which data regarding frequency and duration of exposure to awkward postures were derived. These data were also compared to self-reported exposures. The results showed that when level, duration and frequency of exposure were analysed at the same time, men and women had slightly different exposure patterns. However, these differences were not found when duration and frequency were analysed separately. From the questionnaires it appeared that men and women generally report similar exposures, but they seemed to over-report their exposure compared to the observed exposures. It is concluded that gender differences in exposure to awkward postures within the same task were small at most and cannot explain the female excess in musculoskeletal symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00140130902915921DOI Listing
September 2009

Is there a gender difference in the effect of work-related physical and psychosocial risk factors on musculoskeletal symptoms and related sickness absence?

Scand J Work Environ Health 2009 Mar 1;35(2):85-95. Epub 2009 Apr 1.

EMGO Institute, Van der Boechorststraat 7, NL-1081 BT Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine whether there are gender differences in the effect of exposure to work-related physical and psychosocial risk factors on low back, neck, shoulder, or hand-arm symptoms and related sickness absence.

Methods: Data of a prospective cohort (study on musculoskeletal disorders, absenteeism stress and health) with a follow-up period of three years were used. Questionnaires were used to assess exposure to risk factors and musculoskeletal symptoms. Sickness absence was registered continuously. Female-to-male gender ratios (GR) were calculated to determine whether there were any differences in the effect. A GR value >1.33 or <0.75 was regarded as relevant.

Results: Except for the effect of bending the wrist and the neck backwards (GR 1.52-2.55), men generally had a higher risk of symptoms (GR range 0.50-0.68) with equal exposure. For sickness absence, a GR value of >1.33 was found for twisting the upper body, working in uncomfortable postures, twisting the wrist, bending the neck backwards, and coworker and supervisor support (GR range 1.66-2.63). For driving vehicles, hand-arm vibration, squeezing, working above shoulder level or below knee level, reaching, twisting the neck, job demands, and skill discretion, the GR value was <0.75. For job satisfaction, a GR value of 0.50 was found for absence due to back symptoms, while the GR value was 1.78 for sickness absence due to neck, shoulder, or hand-arm symptoms.

Conclusions: Although women are expected to be more vulnerable to exposure to work-related risk factors, the results of this study show that, in many cases, men are more vulnerable. This study could not explain the gender difference in musculoskeletal symptoms among workers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.1316DOI Listing
March 2009

What makes men and women with musculoskeletal complaints decide they are too sick to work?

Scand J Work Environ Health 2008 Apr 12;34(2):107-12. Epub 2008 May 12.

Department of Public and Occupational Health, EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Center, Van der Boechorststraat 7-9, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine what makes men and women with musculoskeletal complaints decide to call in sick for work.

Methods: Qualitative, face-to-face interviews were used with employees (16 men and 14 women) who had called in sick due to a musculoskeletal complaint and who expected to be absent from work for at least 2 weeks on sick leave.

Results: The participants fell into the following two main groups: those who were off sick because of a diagnosed medical condition, such as a fracture, and those who were off sick because of an unidentifiable complaint, such as low-back pain. Employees in the former group called in sick because they were in the hospital or because they reckoned that their condition was too serious to warrant a continuation of work. Employees in the latter group felt hesitant and insecure and found it hard to judge whether absenteeism was justified. They decided either to "play it safe" and stay off work to prevent the complaints from worsening or to seek advice from medical professionals. Their advice did not include explicit instructions to stay at home, but were usually interpreted as such. Finally, women, but not men, were likely to call in sick if they felt that their home situation was being negatively affected by attempts to keep working while suffering physical complaints.

Conclusions: The decision to call in sick is not taken lightly. Employees with nonspecific disorders base their decision on several factors, including advice from medical professionals. A factor found only among women was work-home interference.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.1221DOI Listing
April 2008

Gender differences in self-reported physical and psychosocial exposures in jobs with both female and male workers.

J Occup Environ Med 2005 Mar;47(3):244-52

Department of Public and Occupational Health, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Van der Boechorststraat 7, NL-1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Objective: The aim was to determine whether men and women with the same job are equally exposed to work-related physical and psychosocial risk factors for musculoskeletal complaints.

Methods: Men (n = 491) and women (n = 342) in 8 jobs with both female and male workers completed a questionnaire on exposure to work-related risk factors. Gender, job title, and potential confounders were included in the final statistical models. Separate analyses were performed for desk workers and assembly workers.

Results: For most risk factors gender differences in exposure were found. Among desk workers exposures were most often higher for women, which was the opposite for assembly workers.

Conclusions: Although exposure assessment relied on self-report, it seems unlikely that gender differences in reporting behavior completely explained gender differences in exposure. Thus, gender differences in exposure are present within the same job.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/01.jom.0000150387.14885.6bDOI Listing
March 2005

Gender differences in the relations between work-related physical and psychosocial risk factors and musculoskeletal complaints.

Scand J Work Environ Health 2004 Aug;30(4):261-78

Department of Public and Occupational Health, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Gender differences in the prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints might be explained by differences in the effect of exposure to work-related physical and psychosocial risk factors. A systematic review was conducted to examine gender differences in the relations between these risk factors and musculoskeletal complaints. Several electronic databases were searched. The strength of the evidence was determined on the basis of the methodological quality and consistency of the study results. For lifting, strong evidence was found that men have a higher risk of back complaints than women. The same was found for the relation between hand-arm vibration and neck-shoulder complaints. For arm posture, strong evidence was found that women have a higher risk of neck-shoulder complaints than men. For social support, no evidence of a gender difference was found for either neck-shoulder or back complaints. For hand-wrist and lower-extremity complaints, inconclusive evidence was found due to a lack of high-quality studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.794DOI Listing
August 2004

An update of a systematic review of controlled clinical trials on the primary prevention of back pain at the workplace.

Occup Med (Lond) 2004 Aug;54(5):345-52

Department of Social Medicine, Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Objective: To update the evidence on the effectiveness of lumbar supports, education and exercise in the primary prevention of low back pain at the workplace.

Methods: A computerized search for controlled clinical trials published between 1997 and 2002 was conducted, and the methodological quality of the studies was assessed using a criteria list. The available evidence was graded with a rating system for the level of evidence. Effect sizes of individual studies were combined if the studies were sufficiently similar.

Results: Five new papers were identified for the update. These trials were added to the previously available trials (n = 11). The methodological quality of most studies was low. Since three of four RCTs on lumbar supports reported no effect, there is no evidence for the effectiveness of lumbar supports. No evidence for education could be found either, since all six RCTs showed negative results. The four RCTs on exercise consistently reported a positive effect, indicating limited evidence for the effectiveness of exercise.

Conclusion: There is no evidence for the effectiveness of lumbar supports or education in the primary prevention of low back pain at the workplace. There is limited evidence for the efficacy of exercise, and the effect that can be obtained is moderate. There is still a need for methodologically sound studies and studies on the cost-effectiveness of exercise. Also the possible effect of lumbar supports in the treatment of back pain needs further investigation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqh065DOI Listing
August 2004
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