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


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          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.


          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.


          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".


          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.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1251) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references28

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          Adverse health effects of high-effort/low-reward conditions.

          J Siegrist (1996)
          In addition to the person-environment fit model (J. R. French, R. D. Caplan, & R. V. Harrison, 1982) and the demand-control model (R. A. Karasek & T. Theorell, 1990), a third theoretical concept is proposed to assess adverse health effects of stressful experience at work: the effort-reward imbalance model. The focus of this model is on reciprocity of exchange in occupational life where high-cost/low-gain conditions are considered particularly stressful. Variables measuring low reward in terms of low status control (e.g., lack of promotion prospects, job insecurity) in association with high extrinsic (e.g., work pressure) or intrinsic (personal coping pattern, e.g., high need for control) effort independently predict new cardiovascular events in a prospective study on blue-collar men. Furthermore, these variables partly explain prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, atherogenic lipids) in 2 independent studies. Studying adverse health effects of high-effort/low-reward conditions seems well justified, especially in view of recent developments of the labor market.
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            Psychosocial work environment and mental health—a meta-analytic review

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              Psychosocial work environment and stress-related disorders, a systematic review.

              Knowledge on the impact of the psychosocial work environment on the occurrence of stress-related disorders (SRDs) can assist occupational physicians in the assessment of the work-relatedness of these disorders. To systematically review the contribution of work-related psychosocial risk factors to SRDs. A systematic review of the literature was carried out by searching Medline, PsycINFO and Embase for studies published up until October 2008. Studies eligible for inclusion were prospective cohort studies or patient-control studies of workers at risk for SRDs. Studies were included in the review when data on the association between exposure to psychosocial work factors and the occurrence of SRDs were presented. Where possible, meta-analysis was conducted to obtain summary odds ratios of the association. The strength of the evidence was assessed using four levels of evidence. From the 2426 studies identified, seven prospective studies were included in this review. Strong evidence was found that high job demands, low job control, low co-worker support, low supervisor support, low procedural justice, low relational justice and a high effort-reward imbalance predicted the incidence of SRDs. This systematic review points to the potential of preventing SRDs by improving the psychosocial work environment. However, more prospective studies are needed on the remaining factors, exposure assessment and the relative contributions of single factors, in order to enable consistent assessment of the work-relatedness of SRDs by occupational physicians.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                9 December 2014
                : 14
                : 1
                [ ]Department “Work & Health”, Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin (Federal Institute for Occupational Safety & Health), Nöldnerstraße 40-42, 10317 Berlin, Germany
                [ ]Statens arbeidsmiljøinstitutt (National Institute of Occupational Health), Gydas vei 8, Majorstuen, Oslo, Norway
                [ ]Det Nationale Forskningscenter for Arbejdsmiljø (National Research Center for the Working Environment), Lersø Parkallé 105, 2100 København Ø, Denmark
                [ ]Työterveyslaitos (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health), Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A, 00250 Helsinki, Finland
                [ ]Instituto Nacional de Seguridad e Higiene en el Trabajo (National Institute of Safety and Hygiene at Work), Calle de Torrelaguna 73, 28027 Madrid, Spain
                [ ]European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), Wyattville Road, Loughlinstown, Dublin 18, Ireland
                [ ]TNO, Postbus 3005, 2301, DA Leiden, Netherlands
                © Formazin et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

                This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2014

                Public health
                psychosocial working conditions,monitoring,surveillance,job demand-control-support model,effort-reward-imbalance model,dimension


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