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Health and ill health in working women – balancing work and recovery

by von Thiele Schwarz, Ulrica

Abstract (Summary)
Work conditions within the public health care sector are physically and psychosocially demanding. This means that balancing work with recovery is essential for employees in order to avoid ill health and stay healthy. This thesis is based on four studies. Study I investigated the prevalence of upper extremity disorders (UED) in female dental personnel. Results showed that 81% reported UED. Consequently, interventions aimed at reducing these risks were called for. Study II investigated the health-related effects of two work-place interventions, physical exercise (PE) and reduced working hours (RWH). Health-improvements were more consistent in the PE group, suggesting that PE may be an appropriate intervention to reduce health-risks. However, there were no effects on recovery from work or fatigue, which may result from other factors, such as overcommitment (OC), that prolong or sustain stress-related activity. Study III showed that high OC was associated with poorer next-day recovery and increased fatigue. Also, OC was a more important predictor of lack of recovery and fatigue than were psychosocial work characteristics. This highlights the importance of considering perseverative cognitions in relation to recovery from work and fatigue, and has implications for interventions targeting work-related ill health. Study IV related lack of recovery and fatigue to cumulative biological risk, allostatic load (AL), and to individual biomarkers. Women with a profile characterized by fatigue, sleep difficulties and lack of short-term recovery had a 2.9 increased risk of AL. This was not shown in analyses of individual biomarkers. In sum, this thesis shows that recovery from work is an important factor in relation to women’s work-related health. Fatigue and recovery should be considered interrelated but distinct concepts and recovery should be assessed as an early risk factor for stress-related disease with early risk being investigated using AL rather than individual biomarkers.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Stockholms universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; Social sciences; Psychology; Allostatic Load; Biological markers; Dentistry; Exercise; Fatigue; Physical Activity; Public health care; Overcommitment; Reduced working hours; Stress; Upper Extremity Disorder; Psychology; psykologi

ISBN:978-91-7155-759-9

Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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