Background: Two main models are currently used to evaluate psychosocial factors at work: the Job Strain model developed by Karasek and the Effort-Reward Imbalance model. A French version of the first model has been validated for the dimensions of psychological demands and decision latitude. As regards the second one evaluating three dimensions (extrinsic effort, reward, and intrinsic effort), there are several versions in different languages, but until recently there was no validated French version. The objective of this study was to explore the psychometric properties of the French version of the Effort-Reward Imbalance model in terms of internal consistency, factorial validity, and discriminant validity.
Methods: The present study was based on the GAZEL cohort and included the 10 174 subjects who were working at the French national electric and gas company (EDF-GDF) and answered the questionnaire in 1998. A French version of Effort-Reward Imbalance was included in this questionnaire. This version was obtained by a standard forward/backward translation procedure.
Results: Internal consistency was satisfactory for the three scales of extrinsic effort, reward, and intrinsic effort: Cronbach's Alpha coefficients higher than 0.7 were observed. A one-factor solution was retained for the factor analysis of the scale of extrinsic effort. A three-factor solution was retained for the factor analysis of reward, and these dimensions were interpreted as the factor analysis of intrinsic effort did not support the expected four-dimension structure. The analysis of discriminant validity displayed significant associations between measures of Effort-Reward Imbalance and the variables of sex, age, education level, and occupational grade.
Conclusion: This study is the first one supporting satisfactory psychometric properties of the French version of the Effort-Reward Imbalance model. However, the factorial validity of intrinsic effort could be questioned. Furthermore, as most previous studies were based on male samples working in specific occupations, the present one is also one of the first to show strong associations between measures of this model and social class variables in a population of men and women employed in various occupations.