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Workplace Stress: What Is the Role of Positive Mental Health?

Page, Kathryn M. PsyD; Milner, Allison J. PhD; Martin, Angela PhD; Turrell, Gavin PhD; Giles-Corti, Billie PhD; LaMontagne, Anthony D. SciD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: August 2014 - Volume 56 - Issue 8 - p 814–819
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000230
Original Articles
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Objective: To examine whether positive mental health (PMH)—a positively focused well-being construct—moderates the job stress–distress relationship.

Methods: Longitudinal regression was used to test two waves of matched, population-level data from a sample of older, working Australian adults (n = 3291) to see whether PMH modified the relationship between work stress and later psychological distress.

Results: Time 1 work stress was positively associated with distress at both time points. Positive mental health was negatively associated with work stress at both time points. Positive mental health modified the impact of work stress on psychological distress. This effect only occurred for those with the highest levels of PMH.

Conclusions: Positive mental health may help protect workers from the effect of workplace stress but only in a small proportion of the population. Therefore, to improve workplace mental health, workplaces need to both prevent stress and promote PMH.

From the McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Well-being (Drs Page, Milner, Giles-Corti, and LaMontagne), Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, the University of Melbourne; the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics (Dr Martin), University of Tasmania, Hobart; School of Public Health and Social Work (Dr Turrell), Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane; and Population Health Strategic Research Centre (Drs Page and LaMontagne), School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Kathryn M. Page, PsyD, Work, Health and Well-being Unit, Deakin Population Health Strategic Research Centre, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, Melbourne Burwood campus, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia (kathryn.page@deakin.edu.au).

Dr Turrell is supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellowship (#1003710). Dr LaMontagne is supported by Centre grant funding from the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne, Australia (#15732). Dr Giles-Corti is supported by an NHMRC Principal Research Fellowship (#1004900) and Centre grant funding from the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne, Australia (#15732). Drs Page and Milner are supported by an NHMRC Capacity Building grant (#546248).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2014 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine