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J Health Soc Behav. 2011 Mar;52(1):43-57. doi: 10.1177/0022146510395023.

Boundary-spanning work demands and their consequences for guilt and psychological distress.

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  • 1University of Toronto, Canada.


Using data from a national survey of working Americans (Work, Stress, and Health Survey; N = 1,042), the authors examine the associations between boundary-spanning work demands and self-reported feelings of guilt and distress. The authors document gender differences in the emotional and mental health consequences of boundary-spanning work demands, as indexed by the frequency of receiving work-related contact outside of normal work hours. Specifically, the authors observe that frequent work contact is associated with more feelings of guilt and distress among women only. Analyses also demonstrate that guilt accounts for the positive association between the frequency of work contact and distress among women. Statistical adjustments for levels of guilt reduce the positive association between frequent work contact and distress among women to nonsignificance. The findings underscore the importance of focusing on gender and emotions in work-family interface processes, as well as their implications for psychological health.

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