Empirical evidence indicates the detrimental effects that adverse working environments may exert on workers’ health. However, occupational health research often disregards potential heterogeneity in terms of both the burden that workers perceive as arising from the demands of their jobs and workers’ vulnerability to health problems. In order to account for potential heterogeneity in the relationship between job demands and health, this study intended to both identify typological job demand profiles and typological symptom clusters and to examine the potential associations between these profiles and clusters. This approach makes it possible to explore the differential health effects of diverse constellations of job demands.
In this study, we examined self-reported data provided by a cross-sectional survey of a sample of Austrian employees (N=16,466). By means of latent class analysis, a set of indicator items was used to identify both job demand profiles and symptom clusters. In the following step, we estimated a multinomial logistic regression model by having the symptom clusters regress on the job demand profiles.
Latent class analysis revealed four different subgroups, each of which showed a particular typological response pattern in terms of the perceived burden due to job demands (i.e. the job demand profiles) and the occurrence of diverse health symptoms (i.e. the symptom clusters), respectively. Moreover, multinomial logistic regression analysis demonstrated that the revealed symptom clusters were significantly associated with the revealed job demand profiles, while the strength of association differed considerably depending on the nature of the job demands that a worker experienced.
This study served to demonstrate the application of an alternative method for investigating the relationship between job demands and health by adopting a combined person- and variable-centred approach. The findings suggest that different constellations of job demands have a hierarchical order with regard to the seriousness of reported health symptoms. The synchronous burden from psychosocial, physical, and organizational job demands was found to be most critical in terms of exhibiting signs of poor health.