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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2015, Article ID 915359, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/915359
Research Article

Health Behaviors and Overweight in Nursing Home Employees: Contribution of Workplace Stressors and Implications for Worksite Health Promotion

1Department of Work Environment & Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace (CPH-NEW), University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
2School of Health Sciences, University of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland
3Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Received 10 October 2014; Accepted 13 March 2015

Academic Editor: Noortje Wiezer

Copyright © 2015 Helena Miranda et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Many worksite health promotion programs ignore the potential influence of working conditions on unhealthy behaviors. Methods. A study of nursing home employees (56% nursing aides) utilized a standardized questionnaire. We analyzed the cross-sectional associations between workplace stressors and obesity, cigarette smoking, and physical inactivity. Results. Of 1506 respondents, 20% reported exposure to three or more workplace stressors (physical or organizational), such as lifting heavy loads, low decision latitude, low coworker support, regular night work, and physical assault. For each outcome, the prevalence ratio was between 1.5 and 2 for respondents with four or five job stressors. Individuals under age 40 had stronger associations between workplace stressors and smoking and obesity. Conclusions. Workplace stressors were strongly associated with smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity, even among the lowest-status workers. Current working conditions affected younger workers more than older workers. Although this study is cross-sectional, it has other strengths, including the broad range of work stressors studied. Strenuous physical work and psychosocial strain are common among low-wage workers such as nursing home aides. Workplace health promotion programs may be more effective if they include measures to reduce stressful work environment features, so that working conditions support rather than interfere with employee health.