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Manager Support for Work-Family Issues and its Impact on Employee-Reported Pain in the Extended Care Setting

O'Donnell, Emily M. MS; Berkman, Lisa F. PhD; Subramanian, S.V. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2012 - Volume 54 - Issue 9 - p 1142–1149
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182554af4
Original Articles

Objective: Supervisor-level policies and the presence of a manager engaged in an employee's need to achieve work-family balance, or “supervisory support,” may benefit employee health, including self-reported pain.

Methods: We conducted a census of employees at four selected extended care facilities in the Boston metropolitan region (n = 368). Supervisory support was assessed through interviews with managers and pain was reported by employees.

Results: Our multilevel logistic models indicate that employees with managers who report the lowest levels of support for work-family balance experience twice as much overall pain as employees with managers who report high levels of support.

Conclusions: Low supervisory support for work-family balance is associated with an increased prevalence of employee-reported pain in extended care facilities. We recommend that manager-level policies and practices receive additional attention as a potential risk factor for poor health in this setting.

From the Department of Society, Human Development and Health (Ms O'Donnell and Drs Berkman and Subramanian), Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass; and Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (Ms O'Donnell and Dr Berkman), Cambridge, Mass.

Address correspondence to: Emily M. O'Donnell, MS, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, SPH 3, Floor 7, Boston, MA, 02115 (

This study was supported by Work, Family and Health Network and the National Institute of Aging and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant U01 5186989-01.

This research was conducted as part of the Work, Family and Health Network (, which is funded by a cooperative agreement through the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (grants U01HD051217, U01HD051218, U01HD051256, U01HD051276), National Institute on Aging (grant U01AG027669), Office of Behavioral and Science Sciences Research, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (grant U01OH008788). Grants from the William T. Grant Foundation, Alfred P Sloan Foundation, and the Administration for Children and Families have provided additional funding.

The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of these institutes and offices.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2012 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine