In the Job Demand-Control (JDC) model and the Job Demand-Resource (JDR) model, the individual worker's potential to influence their work, through job control, is associated with better health. Among self-employed farmers, this job control dimension could be analogous to a sense of independence as this occupational group often highlights this as the best thing about the profession.
To analyse how work demands, sense of independence and number of close friends, and the interaction between independence and work demands predicted mental health among male farmers in Norway.
The sample consisted of male farmers working 1700h or more on the farm annually in 2012. We used the Lisrel structural equation modelling to estimate the direct effects and the interactive effect of independence and work demands.
There were 926 participants. Decrease in work demands, a strong sense of independence and a high number of close friends predicted lower levels of mental complaints. A strong sense of independence buffered the adverse consequences of work demands on mental health.
In this sample of self-employed full-time male farmers in Norway, we found that sense of independence was important for their mental health; farmers with a high sense of independence seemed to be able to manage high work demands more effectively, thus reducing the level of mental health problems. In addition, we also found that work demands and social relationships were associated with mental health outcomes.