Lower health risk with increased job control among white collar workers



Associations between increased job control and health status were tested with questionnaire data from a random sample of full-time workers (n = 8504) from the national Swedish white collar labor federation, TCO (representing 25 per cent of the Swedish work force). Of these subjects, 1937 had undergone a company-initiated job reorganization during the previous several years. Workers in the job reorganization group who had influence in the reorganization process and obtained increased task control as a result had lower levels of illness symptoms on 11 of 12 health indicators controlling for age and sex (11 of 12 associations significant for males, four of 12 associations significant for females).

A previously validated measure of coronary heart disease was significantly lower in circumstances of increased job control for males (8.6 per cent symptom frequency with decreased control versus 3.4 per cent with increased control; p = 0.05). Absenteeism was lower: 10.7 per cent versus 5.0 per cent (0.01). Depression was lower 27.8 per cent to 13.7 per cent (0.001). However, smoking was significantly higher for women 11.0 per cent versus 23.5 per cent (0.01). All illness indicators showed that the process of job reorganization itself was associated with significantly higher symptoms (‘change stress’). However for males (only) symptoms levels when reorganization was accompanied by increased control were often as low or lower than symptom levels for no reorganization at all. Unfortunately, job reorganizations involving employee influence and increased task control were less frequent than job reorganizations involving reduced influence and no increased control, especially for women and older workers.