Adapting to the work-life interface : the influence of individual differences, work and family on well-being, mental health and work engagement

Millear, Prudence M.R. (2010) Adapting to the work-life interface : the influence of individual differences, work and family on well-being, mental health and work engagement. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Bronfenbrenner.s Bioecological Model, expressed as the developmental equation, D f PPCT, is the theoretical framework for two studies that bring together diverse strands of psychology to study the work-life interface of working adults. Occupational and organizational psychology is focused on the demands and resources of work and family, without emphasising the individual in detail. Health and personality psychology examine the individual but without emphasis on the individual.s work and family roles. The current research used Bronfenbrenner.s theoretical framework to combine individual differences, work and family to understand how these factors influence the working adult.s psychological functioning. Competent development has been defined as high well-being (measured as life satisfaction and psychological well-being) and high work engagement (as work vigour, work dedication and absorption in work) and as the absence of mental illness (as depression, anxiety and stress) and the absence of burnout (as emotional exhaustion, cynicism and professional efficacy). Study 1 and 2 were linked, with Study 1 as a cross-sectional survey and Study 2, a prospective panel study that followed on from the data used in Study1. Participants were recruited from a university and from a large public hospital to take part in a 3-wave, online study where they completed identical surveys at 3-4 month intervals (N = 470 at Time 1 and N = 198 at Time 3). In Study 1, hierarchical multiple regressions were used to assess the effects of individual differences (Block 1, e.g. dispositional optimism, coping self-efficacy, perceived control of time, humour), work and family variables (Block 2, e.g. affective commitment, skill discretion, work hours, children, marital status, family demands) and the work-life interface (Block 3, e.g. direction and quality of spillover between roles, work-life balance) on the outcomes. There were a mosaic of predictors of the outcomes with a group of seven that were the most frequent significant predictors and which represented the individual (dispositional optimism and coping self-efficacy), the workplace (skill discretion, affective commitment and job autonomy) and the work-life interface (negative work-to-family spillover and negative family-to-work spillover). Interestingly, gender and working hours were not important predictors. The effects of job social support, generally and for work-life issues, perceived control of time and egalitarian gender roles on the outcomes were mediated by negative work-to-family spillover, particularly for emotional exhaustion. Further, the effect of negative spillover on depression, anxiety and work engagement was moderated by the individual.s personal and workplace resources. Study 2 modelled the longitudinal relationships between the group of the seven most frequent predictors and the outcomes. Using a set of non-nested models, the relative influences of concurrent functioning, stability and change over time were assessed. The modelling began with models at Time 1, which formed the basis for confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to establish the underlying relationships between the variables and calculate the composite variables for the longitudinal models. The CFAs were well fitting with few modifications to ensure good fit. However, using burnout and work engagement together required additional analyses to resolve poor fit, with one factor (representing a continuum from burnout to work engagement) being the only acceptable solution. Five different longitudinal models were investigated as the Well-Being, Mental Distress, Well-Being-Mental Health, Work Engagement and Integrated models using differing combinations of the outcomes. The best fitting model for each was a reciprocal model that was trimmed of trivial paths. The strongest paths were the synchronous correlations and the paths within variables over time. The reciprocal paths were more variable with weak to mild effects. There was evidence of gain and loss spirals between the variables over time, with a slight net gain in resources that may provide the mechanism for the accumulation of psychological advantage over a lifetime. The longitudinal models also showed that there are leverage points at which personal, psychological and managerial interventions can be targeted to bolster the individual and provide supportive workplace conditions that also minimise negative spillover. Bronfenbrenner.s developmental equation has been a useful framework for the current research, showing the importance of the person as central to the individual.s experience of the work-life interface. By taking control of their own life, the individual can craft a life path that is most suited to their own needs. Competent developmental outcomes were most likely where the person was optimistic and had high self-efficacy, worked in a job that they were attached to and which allowed them to use their talents and without too much negative spillover between their work and family domains. In this way, individuals had greater well-being, better mental health and greater work engagement at any one time and across time.

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ID Code: 39183
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Liossis, Calliope & Shochet, Ian
Keywords: Bronfenbrenner, dispositional optimism, coping self-efficacy, affective commitment, skill discretion, job autonomy, life satisfaction, psychological well-being, mental health, work engagement, burnout, longitudinal modelling, gain spirals, loss spirals, conservation of resources, resource caravans, working adults
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 13 Dec 2010 05:11
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 14:43

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