Work-family spillover and health during midlife: is managing conflict everything?

Am J Health Promot. 2000 Mar-Apr;14(4):236-43. doi: 10.4278/0890-1171-14.4.236.


Purpose: To examine the association between multiple dimensions of work-family spillover, and physical and mental health among working midlife adults.

Design: Cross-sectional analyses of self-reported data.

Setting: The National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), 1995.

Subjects: Employed adults aged 35-65 years (n = 1547) who participated in the telephone interview and returned the mail-back questionnaires of the MIDUS (overall response rate of 60.8%).

Measures: Independent variables included negative spillover from work to family, positive spillover from work to family, negative spillover from family to work, positive spillover from family to work. Self-rated physical health, chronic conditions, obesity, self-rated mental health, negative psychological well-being, and positive psychological well-being were outcomes.

Results: Independent of negative spillover between work and family, more positive spillover from work to family was associated with better physical health (odds ratio [OR] = 1.17, p < or = .05) and mental health (OR = 1.28, p < or = .01). More positive spillover from family to work was associated with less chronic conditions (OR = .85, p < or = .05), less negative well-being (OR = .67, p < or = .001), as well as better mental health (OR = 1.45, p < or = .01) and more positive well-being (OR 1.76, p < or = 001).

Conclusions: Health promotion or employment programs and policies may need to focus on minimizing negative spillover between work and family and promoting positive spillover between work and family.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Family Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness / psychology