Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Work-family conflict translates to greater risk of musculoskeletal pain for hospital workers

Date:
September 27, 2012
Source:
George Washington University
Summary:
Nurses and other hospital workers, especially those who work long hours or the night shift, often report trying to juggle the demands of the job and family obligations. A study out suggests that the higher the work-family conflict the greater the risk that health care workers will suffer from neck and other types of musculoskeletal pain.

Nurses and other hospital workers, especially those who work long hours or the night shift, often report trying to juggle the demands of the job and family obligations. A study out September 27 by The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) suggests that the higher the work-family conflict the greater the risk that health care workers will suffer from neck and other types of musculoskeletal pain.

Related Articles


"Work-family conflict can be distracting and stressful for hospital employees," says lead author of the study Seung-Sup Kim, a postdoctoral scientist and professorial lecturer in environmental and occupational health at SPHHS. "Hospitals that adopt policies to reduce the juggling act might gain a host of benefits including a more productive workforce, one that is not slowed down by chronic aches and pains," Kim said.

The study fits into a growing body of evidence showing that conflict between increased workloads or long hours can spill over into domestic life and adversely affect workers on the front lines of patient care. Other research suggests that work-home conflict can put workers at risk of depression, substance abuse and even heart disease. But could the stress of trying to care for multiple sick patients on a hospital ward and manage the domestic front actually lead to physical pain?

Kim and principal investigator, Glorian Sorensen, PhD, Professor of Society, Human Development and Health at Harvard School of Public Health and other researchers decided to try to find out by conducting a survey among 2,000 hospital workers who provided direct patient care in two large Boston hospitals. Nearly 80 percent of the workers took the survey and the team ended up including a total of 1,199 patient care workers in the current analysis. The team assessed work-family conflict with five questions. They asked workers if they agreed with statements like: "The amount of time my job takes up makes it difficult to fulfill family or personal responsibilities" and "My job produces strain that makes it difficult to fulfill my family or personal responsibilities."

In addition, the researchers used a questionnaire to assess how much the participants in the study experienced musculoskeletal pain during the previous three months. And they also took note of factors that might affect the outcome of the study, such as the amount of on-the-job lifting or pulling -- which could strain muscles and lead to pain.

The researchers discovered that nurses and other employees who reported high conflict between their job duties and obligations at home had about a 2 times greater chance of suffering from neck or shoulder pain in the last three months. And workers with the highest work-life imbalance had nearly a 3 times greater risk of reporting arm pain during that period.

All told, the researchers found that workers who reported lots of conflict had more than a 2 times greater chance of experiencing any kind of musculoskeletal pain. At the same time, the research found no lasting link between this kind of ongoing conflict and lower back pain, which might be caused when hospital workers lift heavy patients on a regular basis, Kim said.

Hospital workers, and especially nurses, often pull double shifts or work the night shift, and in some cases are handling heavy volumes of very sick patients. The conflict between on-the-job duties and home responsibilities -- such as taking calls about a forgetful parent who has wandered off -- can, as this study suggests, lead to chronic bodily pain -- and possibly other health problems.

The consequences of that unhealthy cycle are serious and affect not just hospitals but society at large, Kim says. He says that the work-home conflict might exacerbate shortages of key health professionals caused when burned-out nurses or other health professionals retire early or leave the field because of the stress. Workers distracted by issues at home or by ongoing muscular pain might be more likely to call in sick or if they do show up for work might provide less than attentive care, he speculates.

The study, authored by Kim and his colleagues, will be published in the online version of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine September 27. Kim says that the findings must be confirmed by additional research in order to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between work-family conflict and the aches and pains reported by workers in this study.

Even at this stage, the findings should push administrators to take a hard look at working conditions in hospitals. "Hospital employees who don't have to juggle extreme work hours and family obligations might be happier and more productive on the job," Kim said. "And that's a win-win situation that will benefit not just hospitals but also workers, patients -- and family members."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by George Washington University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

George Washington University. "Work-family conflict translates to greater risk of musculoskeletal pain for hospital workers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120927162646.htm>.
George Washington University. (2012, September 27). Work-family conflict translates to greater risk of musculoskeletal pain for hospital workers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120927162646.htm
George Washington University. "Work-family conflict translates to greater risk of musculoskeletal pain for hospital workers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120927162646.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Google X wants to improve modern medicine with nanoparticles and a wearable device. It's all an attempt to tackle disease detection and prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins