Do dimensions from the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire predict vitality and mental health over and above the job strain and effort-reward imbalance models?

Hermann Burr, Karen Albertsen, Reiner Rugulies, Harald Hannerz
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2010, 38 (3 Suppl): 59-68

AIMS: The Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ) comprises dimensions (emotional demands, demands of hiding emotions, meaning of work, quality of leadership, and predictability) that are not in the job strain or the effort-reward imbalance (ERI) models. The study aim was to investigate whether these dimensions explain changes in vitality and mental health over and above the job strain and ERI models.

METHODS: A cohort of 3552 employees in 2000 were followed up in 2005 (cohort participation of 51%). Regression analyses were carried out with mental health and vitality as dependent variables. A significance level of 0.01 was applied when comparing regression models.

RESULTS: Regarding mental health, both the full COPSOQ-ERI model (p = 0.005) and the full job strain-COPSOQ model (p = 0.01) were significantly better than the ERI and the job strain models. Regarding vitality, none of the full COPSOQ models (i.e. with new COPSOQ dimensions together with job strain or ERI respectively) was significantly better than the ERI (p = 0.03) or the job strain (p = 0.04) models. Emotional demands and low meaning of work predicted poor mental health and low vitality.

CONCLUSIONS: In relation to mental health, new psychosocial risk factors have the potential to add to the predictive power of the job strain and ERI models. The current practice of including only items from the ERI and job strain models in public health studies should be reconsidered. Theories regarding the status of, for example, emotional demands and meaning of work should be developed and tested.

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