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Investigating the factorial structure and availability of work time control in a representative sample of the Swedish working population
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Radboud University, The Netherlands.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Swansea University, UK.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8105-0901
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8433-2405
2016 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1403-4948, E-ISSN 1651-1905, Vol. 44, no 3, p. 320-328Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aims: Past research has often neglected the sub-dimensions of work time control (WTC). Moreover, differences in levels of WTC with respect to work and demographic characteristics have not yet been examined in a representative sample. We investigated these matters in a recent sample of the Swedish working population. Methods: The study was based on the 2014 data collection of the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health. We assessed the structure of the WTC measure using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. Differences in WTC by work and demographic characteristics were examined with independent sample t-tests, one-way ANOVAs and gender-stratified logistic regressions. Results: Best model fit was found for a two-factor structure that distinguished between control over daily hours and control over time off (root mean square error of approximation = 0.06; 95% CI 0.04 to 0.09; Comparative Fit Index (CFI) = 0.99). Women, shift and public-sector workers reported lower control in relation to both factors. Age showed small associations with WTC, while a stronger link was suggested for civil status and family situation. Night, roster and rotating shift work seemed to be the most influential factors on reporting low control over daily hours and time off. Conclusions: Our data confirm the two-dimensional structure underlying WTC, namely the components 'control over daily hours' and 'control over time off'. Women, public-sector and shift workers reported lower levels of control. Future research should examine the public health implications of WTC, in particular whether increased control over daily hours and time off can reduce health problems associated with difficult working-time arrangements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 44, no 3, p. 320-328
Keywords [en]
Work time control, flexible work-time arrangements, autonomy, shift work, flexitime, factor analysis
National Category
Occupational Health and Environmental Health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-125003DOI: 10.1177/1403494815618854ISI: 000373591600013PubMedID: 26620363Local ID: P-3313OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-125003DiVA, id: diva2:891513
Available from: 2016-01-07 Created: 2016-01-07 Last updated: 2022-03-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Highs and Lows of Work-Time Control: Exploring the role of control over working hours for health
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Highs and Lows of Work-Time Control: Exploring the role of control over working hours for health
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Flexible work-time arrangements are thought to create ways of aligning work and private life and facilitate recovery. While temporal flexibility is found to generally bolster work–life balance, its effects on health outcomes are less well known. The present thesis seeks to examine if and how perceived control over working hours benefits workers’ health. Utilising a large Swedish cohort study, four empirical studies explored the association of work-time control (WTC) with subsequent mental and physical health as well as the underlying mechanisms and moderating influences.

Study I assessed the factorial structure of an instrument to measure WTC and found two sub-dimensions: control over daily hours (the length, starting and ending times of a workday) and control over time off (the taking of breaks/time/days off, paid and unpaid). Levels of control per sub-dimension were described by demographic and work-related factors for a large sample of Swedish workers. In particular, shift, public sector and female workers reported low levels of WTC.

Study II examined effects of control over daily hours and time off on depressive symptoms. Increasing control over time off was related to decreasing depressive symptoms over time, whereas only initial level of control over daily hours was associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms. For both sub-dimensions of WTC, the direction of this effect was predominantly from perceived control to subsequent depressive symptoms; reversed processes were of less importance.

Study III focused on work–life interference as one step on the causal chain between WTC and depressive symptoms and musculoskeletal complaints, respectively. For both sub-dimensions of WTC, part of the effect on depressive symptoms went through work–life interference. Reversed processes played a role between depressive symptoms and work–life interference only. Control over time off was found to mitigate work–life interference and subsequent depressive symptoms more than control over daily hours, albeit with generally small effects. Regarding musculoskeletal complaints, effects were even smaller and work–life interference appeared to be less important.

Study IV assessed gender differences in the impact of WTC on work–life interference and exhaustion regarding the mediating role of overtime hours. In a sample of knowledge workers, higher control over time off was associated with lower subsequent work–life interference and exhaustion, while control over daily hours was unrelated to both outcomes. Although men worked more overtime hours than women on average, no evidence was found for men with high control over time off/daily hours to perceive more work–life interference/exhaustion due to increased overtime compared to women.

This thesis found that higher levels of WTC were beneficial for a range of health outcomes, which was partly explained by fewer work–life conflicts. While these effects were generally small, control over time off in particular was consistently associated with favourable outcomes in health, work-life balance and working hours. Given that the level of workers’ discretion over working hours varies starkly by work and demographic factors, enhancing the availability of flexible work-time arrangements is in the interest of public health. WTC, with a particular focus on employees’ ability to take time off from work, may improve the daily work–life interface and support a sustainable working life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Public Health Sciences, Stockholm University, 2021. p. 110
Series
Stockholm Studies in Public Health Sciences, ISSN 2003-0061 ; 5
Keywords
flexible work, flexible work-time arrangements, autonomy, psychosocial working conditions, longitudinal, mental health, physical health, work-life balance
National Category
Occupational Health and Environmental Health Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Public Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-197318 (URN)978-91-7911-646-0 (ISBN)978-91-7911-647-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2021-12-10, lärosal 18, hus 2, Albanovägen 12 and online via Zoom, public link is available at the department website, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2013-0448NordForsk, 74809
Available from: 2021-11-17 Created: 2021-10-11 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Albrecht, SophieKecklund, GöranTucker, PhilipLeineweber, Constanze

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