APH 1998, 56, 1-13:

Exploring the relationship between job stress and psyschosomatic complaints; the role of negative affectivity.

R. Verhoogen, O. Van den Bergh, G. Moens, and R. De Wit

Keywords: job content questionnaire, job stress, cross-sectional study, occupation

Objectives. In the present study the relationship between job related stress, psychosomatic complaints and negative affectivity (NA) is investigated. lt was predicted that, controlling for the effects of NA, the association between job stress and psychomatic complaints would be reduced considerably.

Methods. A questionnaire tapping job stress, psychosomatic complaints and NA was filled out by 177 employees from an occupationally heterogeneous population. Analysis of variance and nonparametric tests were performed to examine gender-, age- and company-related differences. The relationship between job stress, psychosomatic complaints and NA was studied using correlation and regression analyses.  

Results
. Male- and female subjects did not differ in self-reported job stress, but significant gender differences were found on the reporting of psychosomatic complaints and NA.  Employees from different companies did not differ in the prevalence of self-reported complaints or NA. They did however respond differently to most of the job characteristics. lt was shown that controlling for NA reduced the observed correlations between psychosomatic complaints and job characteristics considerably.

Conclusions. Using self-report questionnaires in studying the relationship between job stress and health, controlling for the confounding effects of NA seems essential.  Nevertheless, after controlling for NA, job stress remained significantly correlated with the reporting of psychosomatic complaints.