Article Text


Examining the mediating effect of work-to-family conflict on the associations between job stressors and employee psychological distress: a prospective cohort study


Objectives The mediating effect of work-to-family conflict (WFC) on the associations between eight types of job stressors (measured based on the job demands-control, effort–reward imbalance and organisational justice models) and psychological distress in employees was examined.

Design This study employed a prospective design.

Setting An occupational cohort study in Japan (Japanese Study of Health, Occupation, and Psychosocial Factors Related Equity; J-HOPE).

Participants 5859 men and 1560 women who were working for 11 firms and participated at three consecutive waves of J-HOPE, at 1-year intervals, from 2010 to 2013.

Main outcome measures Psychological distress, as measured by Kessler 6 scores.

Results Mediation analysis using data on job stressors at baseline, WFC at 1-year follow-up and psychological distress at 2-year follow-up showed that WFC mediated 39.1% (95% CI 29.1% to 49.1%) and 44.5% (95% CI 31.4% to 51.7%) of the associations of psychological distress with job demands and effort, respectively, for men. The mediating effect of WFC was smaller for job stressors indicating reduced job resources, compared with job demands and effort. The mediating effect of WFC was somewhat larger for women than it was for men, with WFC mediating 47.5% (95% CI 22.5% to 72.6%) and 64.0% (95% CI 24.3% to 100.0%) of the associations of psychological distress with job demands and effort, respectively.

Conclusions WFC was a key mediator in the associations between most job stressors and employee psychological distress. Results suggest that policy measures and support from supervisors, to prevent job stressors from adding to WFC, are needed to reduce employee psychological distress.

  • Mental Health
  • Public Health

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  • Contributors TO conducted the econometric analysis and drafted the original manuscript. AT managed the data collection. AI and AT contributed to the interpretation of the results and drafting of the article. All authors approved the final version.

  • Funding This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Grant Number 26245039.

  • Competing interests We have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare that we have no competing interests.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The Research Ethics Committee of the Graduate School of Medicine and Faculty of Medicine, The University of Tokyo (No 2772), the Kitasato University Medical Ethics Organization (No B-12-103), and the Ethics Committee of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan (No 10-004).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There are no additional data available in relation to this manuscript. Contact the corresponding author (TO) if detailed information about the access to the data set is needed.

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