A procedure for linking psychosocial job characteristics data to health surveys

Am J Public Health. 1988 Aug;78(8):904-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.78.8.904.


A system is presented for linking information about psychosocial characteristics of job situations to national health surveys. Job information can be imputed to individuals on surveys that contain three-digit US Census occupation codes. Occupational mean scores on psychosocial job characteristics-control over task situation (decision latitude), psychological work load, physical exertion, and other measures-for the linkage system are derived from US national surveys of working conditions (Quality of Employment Surveys 1969, 1972, and 1977). This paper discusses a new method for reducing the biases in multivariate analyses that are likely to arise when utilizing linkage systems based on mean scores. Such biases are reduced by modifying the linkage system to adjust imputed individual scores for demographic factors such as age, education, race, marital status and, implicitly, sex (since men and women have separate linkage data bases). Statistics on the linkage system's efficiency and reliability are reported. All dimensions have high inter-survey reproducibility. Despite their psychosocial nature, decision latitude and physical exertion can be more efficiently imputed with the linkage system than earnings (a non-psychosocial job characteristic). The linkage system presented here is a useful tool for initial epidemiological studies of the consequences of psychosocial job characteristics and constitutes the methodological basis for the subsequent paper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Employment*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Information Systems*
  • Male
  • Physical Exertion
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • United States