The Interplay among Age and Employment Status on the Perceptions of Psychosocial Risk Factors at Work

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 May 21;17(10):3611. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17103611.


While the role of individual differences in shaping primary appraisals of psychosocial working conditions has been well investigated, less is known about how objective characteristics of the employee profile (e.g., age) are associated with different perceptions of psychosocial risk factors. Moreover, previous research on the link between employment status (i.e., work contract) and such perceptions has provided mixed results, leading to contradictory conclusions. The present study was conducted on a nationally representative sample of theItalian employed workforce surveyed with computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) methodology. The principal aim of the study is to bridge this gap in the extant literature by investigating the interplay between two key characteristics of the employee profile (i.e., age and work contract) in shaping employees' perceptions of psychosocial risk factors. Given the disparate literature scenario on the interplay between age and employment status in shaping primary appraisals of psychosocial stressors, we formulated and compared multiple competitive informative hypotheses. Consistent with the principles of the conservation of resources (COR) theory, we found that older contingent employees reported a higher level of psychosocial risk than their permanent peers who, in turn, were more vulnerable than middle-aged and younger workers (regardless of their employment status). These results highlight the importance of simultaneously assessing multipleobjective variables of the employee profile (i.e., age and employment status) which may act to shape subjective perceptions of psychosocial risk factors for work-related stress. Given our findings, employers and policy makers should consider older contingent employees as one of the workforce sub-populationsmost vulnerable to negative work environments.

Keywords: Bayes factor; Bayesian informative hypotheses; age; aging; contingent work; employment status; psychosocial risk factors at work; work contract; work-related stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Stress*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace
  • Young Adult