• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Workaholism Leads to Mental and Physical Health Problems: Work Addiction Risk Depends on Occupation

Workaholism Leads to Mental and Physical Health Problems: Work Addiction Risk Depends on Occupation

© iStock

Workaholism or work addiction risk is a growing public health concern that can lead to many negative mental and physical health outcomes such as depression, anxiety or sleep disorder. Perception of work (job demands and job control) may become a major cause of employees’ work addiction. The international group of researchers including the HSE University scientist explored the link between work addiction risk and health-related outcomes using the framework of Job Demand Control Model. The results were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Workaholics are people who usually work seven and more hours more than others per week. There are potential reasons for that: financial problems, poor marriage or pressure by their organization or supervisor. What can differentiate a workaholic behaviour from similar behaviour like work engagement? Workaholism is also known as a behavioural disorder, which means the excessive involvement of the individual in work when an employer doesn’t require or expect it.

The scientists aimed to demonstrate the extent to which the work addiction risk is associated with the perception of work (job demands and job control), and mental health in four job categories suggested by Karasek’s model or Job Demand-Control-Support model (JDCS). The JDCS model assumes four various work environments (four quadrants) in which workers may experience a different level of job demands and job control: passive, low-strain, active, and tense/job-strain. Job control is the extent to which an employee feels control over doing work.

  • Passive” jobs (low job control, low job demands) might be satisfying to a worker as long as the workers reach the set goal.
  • Low strain” jobs have high job control and low job demands. Individuals in this category are not particularly at risk of mental health problems, and it corresponds typically to creative jobs such as architects.
  • Active” workers have high job demands and high job control. They are highly skilled professionals with responsibilities, such as heads or directors of companies. Those highly skilled workers have very demanding tasks but they have high levels of decision latitude to solve problems.
  • Finally, workers at risk of stress-related disorders are those within the “job strain” group (high demand and low control). For example, healthcare workers from emergency departments are typically in job strain because they cannot control the huge workload.

The study was conducted in France because it is one of the industrial countries with growing numbers of occupations. The authors of the research collected data from 187 out of 1580 (11.8%) French workers who agreed to participate in a cross-sectional study using the WittyFit software online platform. The self-administered questionnaires were the Job Content Questionnaire by Karasek, the Work Addiction Risk Test, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale and socio-demographics. The authors of this study divided all the participants based on their occupational groups and investigated the link between work addiction risk and mental and physical health outcomes.

Morteza Charkhabi,
Assistant Professor at the HSE Institute of Education

‘One of the novelties of this research was to introduce vulnerable occupational groups to organizations or job holders. For example, if we find that work addiction risk can be found more in some occupations and may result in negative outcomes for the health situation then we can give this information to decision makers in this organization or, for example, to the ministry of health. And they could intervene to prevent this problem.’

The results show that high job demands at work are strongly associated with work addiction risk but the job control level does not play the same role. The prevalence of work addiction risk is higher for active and high-strain workers than for passive and low-strain workers. These two groups of workers appeared to be more vulnerable and therefore can suffer more from the negative outcomes of work addiction risk, in terms of depression, sleep disorder, stress and other health issues.

‘We found that job demands could be the most important factor that can develop work addiction risk. So this factor should be controlled or should be investigated by the organization's manager, for example, HR staff, psychologists. Also another conclusion could be the job climate like job demands of each job category can influence the rate of work addiction risk. Thus in this study we actually focused on external factors like job demands not internal factors like the personal characteristics,’ adds Morteza Charkhabi.

The researchers found that people with higher work addiction risk compared to people with low work addiction risk have twice the risk of developing depression. Sleep quality was lower to workers with high risk of work addiction compared to workers with low risk of work addiction. Also women had almost twice the work addiction risk than men.

See also:

How Lockdown Has Changed Life for Russian Women

Researchers Yulia Chilipenok, Olga Gaponova, Nadezhda Gaponova and Lyubov Danilova of HSE – Nizhny Novgorod looked at how the lockdown has impacted Russian women during the COVID-19 pandemic. They studied the following questions: how women divided their time; how they worked from home; how they got on with their partners and children; and how they dropped old habits and started new ones in relation to nutrition, health, beauty, and self-development.

Almost Half of Russians Suffer from Loneliness

In Russia, 43.1% of the adult population experiences loneliness. This share is comprised mostly of older people, but quite often young people as well. At each age, loneliness is experienced in its own way, and at certain times it becomes especially painful.

‘Students Lack the Ability to Organise Themselves’

Russian students are not particularly independent or self-disciplined. A recent study shows that this has been one of the problems with the transition to remote learning. Researchers presented their findings at the Sociology of Online Learning session of the international eSTARS conference held at the Higher School of Economics in partnership with the Coursera global platform. In an interview, Ulyana Zakharova — session moderator and research fellow at the HSE Centre of Sociology of Higher Education’s Institute of Education — told IQ how students develop their character, teachers stop being translators and remote learning tests everyone’s abilities.

Psychology and the Social Effect of Alcohol Consumption: The Latest ‘Sociology of Markets’ Seminar Held at HSE University

Experts from the Laboratory for Labour Market Studies presented a report entitled ‘The Impact of Non-Cognitive Characteristics on Alcohol Consumption’ at HSE University. They talked about how different character traits affect the degree of dependence on alcohol.

Weeping Men: Why Misandry Flourishes in Russian Society

Although Russia has traditionally been a patriarchal society, misandry—the sharp criticism of men, or ‘reverse sexism’—is on the rise. Women accuse men of every possible sin, from acting aggressively to being too passive at work and home, and from narcissism to general indifference. In a pilot study, HSE University researchers studied misandry in the women of two different generations.

A Tindergarten of Love: Barriers to ‘Digital Romance’ and Strategies of Online Dating App Users

The Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Sociology recently published a collective monograph on socio-technical barriers to the production, distribution and consumption of digital technologies entitled Adventures in Technology: Barriers to Digitalization in Russia. A number of chapters were written by HSE University researchers Konstantin Glazkov, Olga Logunova and Alisa Maximova. 

Russian Scientists Predicted Increased Unrest in the United States back in 2010

Beginning in May 2020, after the police killing of George Floyd, ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstrations and riots engulfed the United States, the United Kingdom, and several European countries. Though Mr. Floyd’s killing served as the immediate catalyst for the unrest, many scholars suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis played a deeper, more pivotal role in creating conditions that led to the protests.

STEM Not for Women? How Gender Stereotypes Stop Women from Becoming Programmers and Engineers

Young women are often discouraged from careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), resulting in fewer young engineers and programmers entering the labour market. A study by Natalia Maloshonok and Irina Shcheglova examines how and why gender stereotypes can disempower female students, leading to poor academic performance and high dropout rates.

State and Civic Efforts Helped Save at Least 80,000 Lives in Russia During the Pandemic, HSE Experts Say

In a study, ‘How Many Deaths from COVID-19 Were Avoided by Russian Society’, experts from HSE University found that the restrictive measures taken by the Russian government and its citizens to combat the spread of the virus saved the lives of tens of thousands of Russians.

Trust in Mask: How COVID-19 Has Changed the Attitude of Russians to Each Other

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the whole country ended up in self-isolation, some people have to ask for support, others prepare themselves in readiness to provide it. Have Russians felt more cautious in recent months, or do people who have been forced to stay at home still remember how to trust and help? In order to find the answers to these questions, we can analyse the data from a new all-Russian survey conducted by HSE Centre for Studies of Civil Society and Non-Profit Sector.