Chronic illness affects a large and growing number of workers in the United States and globally. Stigmatization (devaluation) at work based on chronic illness may be stressful for individuals and therefore may lead to negative psychological consequences (i.e. strains). In order to better understand stressful experiences of stigma for workers with chronic illnesses, a model of stigma-related identity threat (perceptions that one is at risk of being treated negatively at work because of chronic illness) was tested on a sample of 203 working adults with chronic illnesses. The following variables related to workers' perceptions of chronic illness-related identity threat: workers' boundary flexibility (flexibility in managing their work and life), their meta-perceptions of devaluation (perceptions of others' devaluation of them based on illness) and their job self-efficacy (feelings of confidence related to performing their job). In turn, perceptions of identity threat related to both feelings of psychological strain and (lower levels of) perceived work ability. Surprisingly, neither stigma centrality (how fundamental illness is to one's identity) nor supervisor support related to workers' identity threat perceptions.
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