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Substantiating the Concept of Work Strain: Its Implication for the Assessment of Work Stressors

Szerencsi, Karolina MSc; van Amelsvoort, Ludovic PhD; Kant, IJmert PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 3 - p 363–370
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182452181
Original Articles

Objective: To assess which work stressors are substantially contributing to work strain and examine their relative contribution.

Methods: We prospectively examined the association between work stressors and work strain, which was defined as employees reporting ill due to work stress. Relevant work stressors were combined into a stressor score with each stressor having its own relevance. Standardized odds ratios (SORs) were calculated using logistic regression analysis and used to compare the associations obtained between already existing scales and the stressor score with work strain.

Results: The stressor score yielded an SOR of 1.89 (95% confidence interval: 1.49 to 2.41) for work strain, while psychological demands (JCQ) yielded an SOR of 1.46 (95% confidence interval: 1.09 to 1.88) for work strain.

Conclusions: We were able to extend and substantiate the range of relevant work stressors into a more comprehensive measure, which should be used to optimize prevention strategies.

From the Maastricht University, School CAPHRI, Department of Epidemiology, Maastricht, the Netherlands.

Address correspondence to: Karolina Szerencsi, P. Debyeplein 1, 6200 MD Maastricht, the Netherlands (

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

This project has been funded by the School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI).

©2012The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine