The long-term mortality impact of combined job strain and family circumstances: A life course analysis of working American mothers

TitleThe long-term mortality impact of combined job strain and family circumstances: A life course analysis of working American mothers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSabbath, EL, Mejía-Guevara, I, Noelke, C, Berkman, LF
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
KeywordsAdult children, Employment and Labor Force, Health Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Public Policy, Risk Taking

Background: Work stress and family composition have been separately linked with later-life mortality among working women, but it is not known how combinations of these exposures impact mortality, particularly when exposure is assessed cumulatively over the life course. We tested whether, among US women, lifelong work stress and lifelong family circumstances would jointly predict mortality risk. Procedures: We studied formerly working mothers in the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS) born 1924-1957 (n = 7352). We used sequence analysis to determine five prototypical trajectories of marriage and parenthood in our sample. Using detailed information on occupation and industry of each woman's longest-held job, we assigned each respondent a score for job control and job demands. We calculated age-standardized mortality rates by combined job demands, job control, and family status, then modeled hazard ratios for death based on family constellation, job control tertiles, and their combination. Results: Married women who had children later in life had the lowest mortality risks (93/1000). The highest-risk family clusters were characterized by spells of single motherhood (132/1000). Generally, we observed linear relationships between job control and mortality hazard within each family trajectory. But while mortality risk was high for all long-term single mothers, we did not observe a job control-mortality gradient in this group. The highest-mortality subgroup was previously married women who became single mothers later in life and had low job control (HR 1.91, 95 CI 1.38,2.63). Practical implications: Studies of associations between psychosocial work characteristics and health might consider heterogeneity of effects by family circumstances. Worksite interventions simultaneously considering both work and family characteristics may be most effective in reducing health risks. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Endnote Keywords

Social determinants of health/sequence analysis/Single motherhood/Job control/Work family conflict/Job stress/Job strain/mental health/risk factors/cardiovascular disease/public Policy/Working women/Health risk assessment/Occupational stress/Working mothers

Endnote ID


Citation Key8280