In the process of recovery from work, rumination is considered as an important mediating variable in the relationship between work demands and psychological health outcomes. Past research differentiated affective rumination from problem-solving pondering. The aim of the present study was to test a moderated mediation model for these two distinct ruminative states and to show how personality (i.e. neuroticism and conscientiousness) can alter the mediating effect. The present study is based on 119 surveys from dental students with a time lag of 6 months. Participants filled out questionnaires assessing specific study-relevant performance demands, rumination and personality and a screening measure for psychological health status.
Neuroticism was found to moderate the demand-affective rumination association, but conscientiousness did not moderate the demand–problem-solving pondering association. Moderated mediation analysis revealed that affective rumination mediates the impact of demands on psychological health only for individuals low in neuroticism. Findings are discussed regarding potential interventions for dental students to prevent negative psychological health outcomes due to increased work-related demands in the long term. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.