The impact of employee level and work stress on mental health and GP service use: an analysis of a sample of Australian government employees

Parslow, Ruth A.; Jorm, Anthony F.; Christensen, Helen; Broom, Dorothy H.; Strazdins, Lyndall; D' Souza, Rennie M.
January 2004
BMC Public Health;2004, Vol. 4, p41
Academic Journal
Background: This study sought to identify the extent to which employee level and work stressors were associated with mental health problems experienced by Australian government employees, and with their use of primary care services. Methods: 806 government employees aged between 40 and 44 years were surveyed as part of an epidemiological study conducted in Australia. Data collected from participants included sociodemographic attributes, physical health, psychological measures and work stressors relating to job control, job demands, job security and skills discretion at work. For 88% of these participants, information on visits made to general practitioners (GPs) for the six months before and after their survey interview was obtained from health insurance records. Results: When work stress and personal factors were taken into account, men at more junior levels reported better mental health, more positive affect and used fewer GP services. Women at middle-management levels obtained less GP care than their more senior counterparts. Both men and women who reported higher levels of work stress were found to have poorer mental health and well-being. The impact of such stressors on GP service use, however, differed for men and women. Conclusion: Measures of work stress and not employee level affect the mental health and wellbeing of government employees. For governments with responsibility for funding health care services, reducing work stress experienced by their own employees offers potential benefits by improving the health of their workforce and reducing outlays for such services.


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