The purpose of this paper is to examine the mediating role of stress between work intensification and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) focusing on personal support workers (PSWs) in home and community care.
The analysis sample of 922 comes from the 2015 survey of PSWs employed in Ontario, Canada. The endogenous variable is self-reported MSDs, and the exogenous variable is work intensification. Stress, measured as symptoms of stress, is the mediating variable. Other factors shown in the literature as associated with stress and/or MSDs are included as control variables. Structural equation model regression analyses are presented.
The results show that stress mediates the effect of work intensification on PSW’s MSDs. Other significant factors included being injured in the past year, facing hazards at work and preferring less hours – all had positive and significant substantive effects on MSDs.
The survey is cross-sectional and not longitudinal or experimental in design, and it focuses on a single occupation in a single sector in Ontario, Canada and, as such, this can limit the generalizability of the results to other occupations and sectors.
For PSW employers including their human resource managers, supervisors, schedulers and policy-makers, the study recommends reducing work intensification to lower stress levels and MSDs.
The findings of this study contribute to the theory and knowledge by providing evidence on how work intensification can affect workers’ health and assist decision makers in taking actions to create healthy work environments.