WORK STRESS AND ALCOHOL USE: A NATIONAL STUDY OF UNRESOLVED AND UNEXPLORED ISSUES
FRONE, MICHAEL R Principal Investigator
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DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The use of alcohol off and on the job by employed adults represents an important social policy issue because it can undermine employee health and productivity, and may further interfere with employers' ability to compete effectively in an increasingly competitive domestic and global economic environment. Therefore, it is imperative that we develop a better understanding of the workplace causes of employee alcohol use both off and on the job. The most frequently explored work-related cause of employee alcohol use is exposure to work stressors. Nonetheless, because past research on work stress and alcohol use has left many issues unresolved or unexplored, it is not surprising that the findings to date have been weak and inconsistent. The proposed study will systematically extend past research on work stress and alcohol use in a number of ways. First, a broad taxonomy of work stressors will be used to determine the general types of work stressors that may be related to employee alcohol use. Second, a broad set of alcohol measures will be used to determine if work stressors are more strongly related to certain dimensions of alcohol involvement. The taxonomy of alcohol use will include several dimensions of both context-free (i.e., overall) alcohol involvement and work-related context-specific (use before work, use during the workday, use after work, and use on off-work days) alcohol involvement. Finally, variables expected to moderate or mediate the relation between work stressors and alcohol use will be examined. Mediating variables include negative affect, inability to relax or unwind after work, physical and psychological fatigue, and the desire to use alcohol (cravings). Moderating variables include person characteristics (affect and performance regulation expectancies, avoidant coping, impulsivity, and stress-related rumination) and environmental characteristics (overall and workplace physical and social availability of alcohol). To explore these issues, a national telephone survey will be conducted using a representative sample of 3,500 employed individuals 18 to 65 years old. The proposed study will help shape future research on work stress and alcohol use by leading to a more comprehensive model of work stress and employee alcohol use. It will contribute to organizational policy and shape future intervention research on workforce and workplace alcohol use by identifying work conditions and vulnerable subgroups that can be the focus of intervention efforts and work redesign.