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Does Workplace Social Capital Buffer the Effects of Job Stress? A Cross-Sectional, Multilevel Analysis of Cigarette Smoking Among U.S. Manufacturing Workers

Sapp, Amy L. ScD; Kawachi, Ichiro MD, ScD; Sorensen, Glorian PhD; LaMontagne, Anthony D. ScD; Subramanian, S.V. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2010 - Volume 52 - Issue 7 - p 740-750
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181e80842
Original Articles

Objective: To investigate whether workplace social capital buffers the association between job stress and smoking status.

Methods: As part of the Harvard Cancer Prevention Project's Healthy Directions—Small Business Study, interviewer-administered questionnaires were completed by 1740 workers and 288 managers in 26 manufacturing firms (84% and 85% response). Social capital was assessed by multiple items measured at the individual level among workers and contextual level among managers. Job stress was operationalized by the demand-control model. Multilevel logistic regression was used to estimate associations between job stressors and smoking and test for effect modification by social capital measures.

Results: Workplace social capital (both summary measures) buffered associations between high job demands and smoking. One compositional item—worker trust in managers—buffered associations between job strain and smoking.

Conclusion: Workplace social capital may modify the effects of psychosocial working conditions on health behaviors.

From the Department of Society, Human Development, and Health (Dr Sapp, Dr Kawachi, Dr Sorensen, Dr Subramanian), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass; Center for Community-Based Research (Dr Sapp, Dr Sorensen), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Mass; and McCaughey Centre (Dr LaMontagne), Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Amy L. Sapp, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, Bldg SPH3, 7th floor, Boston, MA 02115-6096; E-mail:

©2010The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine