Role Overload and Underload in Relation to Occupational Stress and Health

Stress and Health 26: 99–111 (2010)

13 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2015

See all articles by Kenneth Shultz

Kenneth Shultz

California State University, San Bernardino

Mo Wang

University of Florida - Department of Management

Deborah Olson

University of La Verne

Date Written: April 2010

Abstract

Most research on work stress has focused on the concept of role overload, or too many job demands, as opposed to role underload, or too few job demands. Therefore, the present study was carried out to determine if different levels of job demands may be differentially associated with job-related stress as well as with various health outcomes. Specifically, in the present study, we used data from the Eurobarometer Survey on Working Conditions (n = 16,000) to investigate whether role overload and underload resulted in different negative health outcomes. We also examined to see whether different job characteristics, such as having control of your work schedule, differentially buffered the effects of role demands on work stress for workers experiencing role overload, role underload, or neither (i.e. matched). Results indicated that respondents reporting role overload had the highest level of all 16 negative health outcomes, with the role underload group being the next highest and the matched group being the lowest. In addition, a series of hierarchical logistic regression analyses showed that the control variable of time buffered stress for the role matched and role underload groups, while both time and autonomy buffered stress for the role overload group. The implications of the results for both theory and practice are discussed.

Keywords: job stress, role overload, occupational health

Suggested Citation

Shultz, Kenneth and Wang, Mo and Olson, Deborah, Role Overload and Underload in Relation to Occupational Stress and Health (April 2010). Stress and Health 26: 99–111 (2010), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2639749

Kenneth Shultz

California State University, San Bernardino ( email )

5500 University Parkway
San Bernardino, CA 92407
United States

Mo Wang (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Department of Management ( email )

United States

Deborah Olson

University of La Verne

1950 Third Street
La Verne, CA 91750
United States

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