Stress at work has long been recognized as a factor in increasing risk for mental and physical health problems. The extent to which work stressors and stress predicted injuries occur in a large population of Finnish hospital workers was studied.
A total of 5,111 employees (624 men, 4,487 women) from 10 hospitals participated in this study. Their psychological distress was measured by the General Health Questionnaire, and overload and job control by the Harris scale and the Job Content Questionnaire, respectively. Injuries certified by a physician were followed up for 3 years: injuries in 1997 (n = 213) were used as a measure of baseline and injuries in 1998-1999 (n = 443) were the dependent variables.
Psychological distress was not significantly related to injuries. However, low decision latitude (risk ratio = 1.27 (1.04 to 1.54)), low skill discretion only for men (risk ratio = 2.76 (1.78 to 4.30)), and highly monotonous work (risk ratio = 1.26 (1.02 to 1.55)) were stressors predicting injuries. In addition, workers with numerous problems in interpersonal relationships (risk ratio = 1.43 (1.18 to 1.73)) or many conflicts in collaboration at work (risk ratio = 1.40 (1.15 to 1.71)) were more often involved in injuries.
This study showed that stressors related to autonomy of work and interpersonal relationship at workplace are predictors of injuries in hospital settings. These factors are potentially amenable to organizational interventions.