PURPOSE: To explore the gender-specific longitudinal association between a combination of psychological empowerment and social support at the workplace and self-rated health and burnout in a working population.
MATERIAL AND METHOD: The participants were employees working in the public service sector in central Sweden. The baseline survey in two cohorts was carried out in 2001 and the follow-up in 2003. The questionnaire was answered by 715 respondents at both points in time (overall response rate 67%). Measures used were the Psychological Empowerment Instrument by Spreitzer, the social support dimension in the Demand-Control-Support Questionnaire, the SF-36, the EQ-5D, and the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory. Based on empirical medians, psychological empowerment and social support at baseline were combined into four categories. Mlltivariate comparisons adjusted for age, education, study cohort and SRH and burnout at baseline were performed using multiple linear regression analysis. The genderxempowerment and social support interaction effect was assessed in the multiple linear regression analysis. All analyses were performed for men and women separately.
RESULTS: For women, a combination of high psychological empowerment and high social support at the workplace, in comparison with a combination of low psychological empowerment and low social support, is strongly associated with better SRH (bodily pain, general health, vitality, social functioning, emotional role, mental health, the EQ-5D VAS, and EQ-5D index) and lower levels of work-related burnout at the 2-year follow-up after adjusting for demographics and baseline SRH and burnout. For men, there are univariate associations with burnout and some associations with SRH. After adjustments for demographics and baseline SRH and burnout, psychological empowerment and social support is associated with SRH as measured by the EQ-5D VAS for men. The gender x empowerment and social support interaction analyses confirm gender differences regarding bodily pain, social function, and work-related burnout.
CONCLUSION: A combination of psychological empowerment and social support in working life strongly affects SRH and work-related burnout two years later for women, but only in part for men.