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Job strain in physical therapists.

Campo-MA; Weiser-S; Koenig-KL
Phys Ther 2009 Sep; 89(9):946-956
BACKGROUND: Job stress has been associated with poor outcomes. In focus groups and small-sample surveys, physical therapists have reported high levels of job stress. Studies of job stress in physical therapy with larger samples are needed. OBJECTIVE: The purposes of this study were: (1) to determine the levels of psychological job demands and job control reported by physical therapists in a national sample, (2) to compare those levels with national norms, and (3) to determine whether high demands, low control, or a combination of both (job strain) increases the risk for turnover or work-related pain. DESIGN: This was a prospective cohort study with a 1-year follow-up period. METHODS: Participants were randomly selected members of the American Physical Therapy Association (n=882). Exposure assessments included the Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ), a commonly used instrument for evaluation of the psychosocial work environment. Outcomes included job turnover and work-related musculoskeletal disorders. RESULTS: Compared with national averages, the physical therapists reported moderate job demands and high levels of job control. About 16% of the therapists reported changing jobs during follow-up. Risk factors for turnover included high job demands, low job control, job strain, female sex, and younger age. More than one half of the therapists reported work-related pain. Risk factors for work-related pain included low job control and job strain. LIMITATIONS: The JCQ measures only limited dimensions of the psychosocial work environment. All data were self-reported and subject to associated bias. CONCLUSIONS: Physical therapists' views of their work environments were positive, including moderate levels of demands and high levels of control. Those therapists with high levels of demands and low levels of control, however, were at increased risk for both turnover and work-related pain. Physical therapists should consider the psychosocial work environment, along with other factors, when choosing a job.
Epidemiology; Health-hazards; Job-stress; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Occupational-psychology; Psychological-reactions; Psychological-responses; Psychological-stress; Statistical-analysis; Stress; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Worker-health; Worker-motivation; Work-performance; Workplace-studies
M.A. Campo, PhD, Program in Physical Therapy, School of Health and Natural Sciences, Mercy College, 555 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
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Physical Therapy
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Mount Sinai School of Medicine