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NIOSH studies of control and worker well-being.

Sauter SL; Hurrell JJ Jr.; McLaney MA
Job control and worker health. Sauter SL, Hurrell JJ Jr., Cooper CL, eds. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1989 Dec; :90-103
The results of two NIOSH studies investigating associations between job control and worker health were discussed. Both studies examined Karasek's control/demands stress model which linked job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain. The first study investigated relationships between job control, work pressures, and illness symptoms among a group of 257 office workers, some of whom used video display terminals (VDTs). VDT users reported less autonomy and more work pressures than nonVDT users. Low levels of job control and high levels of job demands were significantly associated with sharp increases in reported illness symptoms by all workers. Increases in mental strain occurred with high levels of demand and low levels of control. When used in a regression model, the interaction term was a significant predictor of job dissatisfaction and illness symptoms; however, the interaction explained only 29% of the variance in the dissatisfaction and 7% of the variance in the illness symptom data. When additional variables were added, the control/demand interaction term was not a significant predictor of any outcome, although control was still a predictor of dissatisfaction. The second study examined associations between job decision latitude and control and job stress, in a questionnaire survey of 675 Newfoundland and Labrador nurses. MA stress control interaction explained 21% of the variance in job satisfaction. Low workload was significantly associated with higher job satisfaction in the presence of decision control and control over the physical environment. Higher cognitive demands scores were associated with greater job satisfaction in the presence of task control. Greater job satisfaction was also associated with less role conflict and role ambiguity, but not with responsibility for others. The authors conclude that a narrow focus on job control and its interactions may limit understanding and prevention of job stress. In workplaces, control should be regarded as only one of a group of psychosocial factors that can affect worker health.
NIOSH-Contract; Contract-210-79-0034; NIOSH-Author; Mental-stress; Job-stress; Office-workers; Medical-personnel; Epidemiology; Questionnaires; Occupational-health; Video-display-terminals; Occupational-psychology
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Sauter SL; Hurrell JJ Jr.; Cooper CL
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NIOSH Division
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Job control and worker health
Page last reviewed: March 4, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division