Application of Karasek's demand/control model in a canadian occupational setting including shift workers during a period of reorganization and downsizing

Janet Schechter, Lawrence W. Green, Lise Olsen, Karen Kruse, Margaret Cargo

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose To apply Karasek's Job Content Model to an analysis of the relationships between job type and perceived stress and stress behaviors in a large company during a period of reorganization and downsizing. Design. Cross-sectional mail-out, mail-back survey. Setting. A large Canadian telephone/telecommunications company. Subjects. Stratified random sample (stratified by job category) of 2200 out of 13,000 employees with a response rate of 48.8%. Measures. Responses to 25 of Karasek's core questions were utilized to define four job types: low demand and high control = 'relaxed'; high demand and high control = 'active'; low demand and low control = 'passive, and high demand with low control = 'high strain'. These job types were compared against self-reported stress levels, perceived general level of health, absenteeism, alcohol use, exercise level, and use of medications and drugs. Similar analyses were performed to assess the influence of shift work. Results. Employees with 'passive' or 'high strain' job types reported higher levels of stress (trend test p < .0001); poorer health (trend test p = .006); and higher levels of absenteeism (trend test p < . 0001). More shift workers reported themselves in poor or fair health (chi-square p = .018) and reported high levels of stress at home (chi-square p = .002) than nonshift workers. The relationships between job type and levels of stress, health, and absenteeism, however, held for nonshift workers as well. Conclusions. Job types with high demand and low control were associated with increased stress, increased absenteeism, and poorer self-concept of health. The demand/control model of Karasek and Theorell was validated in this setting with respect to stress and some stress-associated attitudes and behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-399
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


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