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Do general mental ability and psychosocial work characteristics predict different aspects of health in middle-aged working women and men?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. (Arbets- och Organisationspsykologi)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. (Arbets- och Organisationspsykologi)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. (Arbets- och Organisationspsykologi)
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Psychosocial work conditions including high demands, lack of control and poor support have been linked to poor health. Yet, it is unclear whether individual factors such as general mental ability (GMA) are important. Objective: The present study set out to investigate how childhood mental ability and psychosocial work characteristics relate to positive and negative health indicators. Methods: Data on childhood GMA, occupational level, self-reports of demands, control and social support and negative health indicators (anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders) and positive health indicators (sense of coherence and self-rated health) in midlife came from a cohort of working women (n=271) and men (n=291). Hierarchical regression analyses, with and without controlling for occupational level, were used to examine associations between childhood GMA and self-reports of high demands, low control and poor social support and the four health indicators. Taking into consideration the gendered labor market and variations in health patterns between women and men, gender specific analyses were performed. Results: The analyses showed no associations between childhood GMA and the health indicators. Further, there were no significant interactions between GMA and the psychosocial work factors. Moreover, the overall impact of occupational level was low and controlling for occupational level did not change the overall findings. Conclusions: In a fairly homogeneous cohort of healthy and working middle-aged women and men, current psychosocial work conditions are more strongly linked to self-reports of health, than are childhood factors such as GMA.

Keyword [en]
ability, gender, health, psychosocial work conditions
National Category
Psychology Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-52880OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-52880DiVA: diva2:389251
Projects
Individual Development and Adaptation
Note
Cornelia Wulff received financial support from the Elisabeth and Herman Rhodin Memorial Foundation and the Lars Hierta Memorial Foundation.Available from: 2011-01-19 Created: 2011-01-19 Last updated: 2011-01-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. General mental ability as related to school, work and health: The importance of childhood mental ability for work-related factors among middle-aged women and men
Open this publication in new window or tab >>General mental ability as related to school, work and health: The importance of childhood mental ability for work-related factors among middle-aged women and men
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

General mental ability (GMA) has been found to be important for adjustment and achievement in school and at work. GMA has been linked to various health outcomes, although the research linking it to school-, work-, and health-related outcomes among working adults is still limited. Using data from the longitudinal research program Individual Development and Adaptation (IDA), this thesis investigates how childhood GMA relates to satisfaction with school and work, psychosocial factors at work, and self-reported health outcomes among working adults. The findings showed that the associations between GMA and satisfaction were weak, while those between GMA and achievement and between achievement and satisfaction were stronger. Also, early experiences of achievement and satisfaction at school were linked to adult work life. Analyses taking into account the importance of different occupational levels and areas replicated previous research by underscoring the importance of occupational level. An examination of the importance of GMA and psychosocial work characteristics on a set of health indicators showed no consistent effects of childhood GMA on self-reported health in terms of anxiety, musculoskeletal disorders, self-rated health, and sense of coherence. But in line with previous findings, psychosocial work characteristics were associated with self-reports of health. Here, controlling for occupational level did not change the overall strenght of the relations. To conclude, while the results suggest that the importance of GMA for school and job satisfaction are mediated by other factors, the overall findings indicate that the effects of childhood GMA on various aspects of functioning in midlife are weak – a finding that may follow from the studies focusing exclusively on a Swedish cohort of well-functioning, working and healthy women and men.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, 2011. 104 p.
Keyword
General mental ability, achievement, occupational level, satisfaction, psychosocial workload, health
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-52882 (URN)978-91-7447-197-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-02-23, David Magnusson-salen (U31), hus 8, Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 3: Manuscript.Available from: 2011-02-01 Created: 2011-01-19 Last updated: 2011-01-21Bibliographically approved

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