Job Demand and Control Interventions: A Stakeholder-Centered Best-Evidence Synthesis of Systematic Reviews on Workplace Disability

K Williams-Whitt, MI White, SL Wagner, IZ Schultz, C Koehn, CE Dionne, M Koehoorn, H Harder, R Pasca, O Warje, V Hsu, L McGuire, W Schulz, D Kube, A Hook, MD Wright


Background: Physical and psychological job demands in combination with the degree of control a worker has over task completion, play an important role in reducing stress. Occupational stress is an important, modifiable factor affecting work disability. However, the effectiveness of reducing job demands or increasing job control remains unclear, particularly for outcomes of interest to employers, such as absenteeism or productivity.

Objective: This systematic review reports on job demand and control interventions that impact absenteeism, productivity and financial outcomes.

Methods: A stakeholder-centered best-evidence synthesis was conducted with researcher and stakeholder collaboration throughout. Databases and grey literature were searched for systematic reviews between 2000 and 2012: Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, DARE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, TRIP,, Rehab+, National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC), and Institute for Work and Health. Articles were assessed independently by two researchers for inclusion criteria and methodological quality. Differences were resolved through consensus.

Results: The search resulted in 3363 unique titles. After review of abstracts, 115 articles were retained for full-text review. 11 articles finally met the inclusion criteria and are summarized in this synthesis. The best level of evidence we found indicates that multimodal job demand reductions for either at-work or off-work workers will reduce disability-related absenteeism.

Conclusion: In general, the impacts of interventions that aim to reduce job demands or increase job control can be positive for the organization in terms of reducing absenteeism, increasing productivity and cost-effectiveness. However, more high quality research is needed to further assess the relationships and quantify effect sizes for the interventions and outcomes reviewed in this study.


Job demands; Job control; Workplace; Efficiency, organizational

doi: 10.15171/ijoem.2015.553

 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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