Assessing the psychosocial work environment in relation to mental health: a comprehensive approach

Publication type
Journal article
Shahidi FV, Gignac MA, Oudyk J, Smith PM
Date published
2021 Feb 01
Annals of Work Exposures and Health
[epub ahead of print]
Open Access?

OBJECTIVES: Prevailing job stress models encourage a multidimensional view of the psychosocial work environment and highlight the role that multiple co-occurring stressors play in the aetiology of mental health problems. In this study, we develop a latent typology of psychosocial work environment profiles to describe how a comprehensive array of job stressors are clustered in the Canadian labour market. We also examine the association between these latent psychosocial work environment profiles and several indicators of mental health. METHODS: Data were collected from 6408 workers who completed the Canadian National Psychosocial Work Environment Survey. Psychosocial work exposures were measured using standard items from the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire. We employed latent profile analyses to identify groups of individuals with similar psychosocial work environment profiles. We used log-linear regression models to examine the association between latent psychosocial work environment profiles and burnout, stress, and cognitive strain. RESULTS: Four distinct groups with highly divergent psychosocial work environment profiles were identified. Adjusting for a range of demographic and socioeconomic factors, latent psychosocial work environment profiles were strongly related to mental health. Individuals who reported exposure to a comprehensive array of psychosocial job stressors (11% prevalence) reported the highest probability of burnout (PR: 7.51, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.56-10.15), stress (PR: 8.98, 95% CI: 6.20-13.0), and cognitive strain (PR: 7.29, 95% CI: 5.02-10.60). CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that psychosocial work stressors are tightly clustered in the Canadian labour market, and that the clustering of work stressors is strongly associated with adverse mental health outcomes. Future scholarship may benefit from adopting a more comprehensive approach to the assessment of psychosocial job quality as a determinant of health and well-being