Research reports

More evidence that workplace psychosocial factors are related to mental and physical health outcomes

The evidence that workplace psychosocial factors affect health continues to accumulate.  A recent review study provides a meta-analysis of the relationships with both physical and mental health outcomes.  The authors (Niedhammer et al, 2021) review 72 review studies published over the past 20 years and conclude that there is consistent evidence of relationships that vary in strength with the type of workplace factor and the type of health condition under study. 

The psychosocial risk factors examined included job strain, high strain, low decision latitude, psychological demands, long working hours, effort reward imbalance, job insecurity and organisational injustice.  In addition, some studies looked at the impact of bullying and workplace violence or threats in relation to mental health outcomes.  The health outcomes studied included coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, health related behaviours, depression and other mental health outcomes. 

Niedhammer and her co-authors provide a wealth of detail on these studies and report that they show multiple statistically significant relationships between these factors, with especially strong relationships being seen with various mental health related outcomes.

Though the study did not look at the kinds of interventions that can be made or their effectiveness, it nonetheless points to the need to devise ways to intervene effectively if both the requirements of health and safety legislation and the opportunity to promote health and wellbeing n the workplace are to be grasped. 

Niedhammer, I. Bertrais, S. and Witt, K. (2021).  Psychosocial work exposures and health outcomes: a meta-review of 72 literature reviews with meta-analysis.  Scand J Work Environ Health 2021;47(7):489-508 

Organisational and individual outcomes of health promotion strategies – a review of empirical research.

The model of WHP promoted by ENWHP lays great emphasis on the need to target interventions at both the individual and the work environment in its broadest sense.  All too often, WHP interventions are targeted solely at changing the behaviour of the individual.  So, it is refreshing to see a review study that has systematically examined more than 290 studies since 2000 that have looked at a broad range of outcomes.

Undertaken in Poland, the study found that interventions were most often conducted in SMEs.  The types of intervention that were most common were aimed at changing organisational strategy and culture as well as targeting employee behaviour.  Such integrated interventions commonly yielded positive impacts in terms of changed health behaviours, organisational change and less often in terms of savings or reductions in costs as measured by absenteeism, presenteeism, labour turnover and Return on Investment.

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 383.