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Scand J Public Health. 2008 Jun;36(4):429-35. doi: 10.1177/1403494807088452.

Psychosocial work conditions, unemployment and health locus of control: a population-based study.

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  • 1Department of Health Sciences, Malmö University Hospital, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden.



To investigate the association between psychosocial work conditions, unemployment and lack of belief in the possibility of influencing one's own health.


The 2000 public health survey in Scania is a cross-sectional postal questionnaire study with a 59% participation rate. In total, 5180 persons aged 18-64 years who belonged to the workforce and the unemployed were included in this study. Logistic regression models were used to investigate the associations between psychosocial factors at work and unemployment, and lack of belief in the possibility of influencing one's own health (external locus of control). Psychosocial conditions at work were defined according to the Karasek-Theorell demand-control/decision latitudes into relaxed, active, passive, and job strain categories. The multivariate analyses included age, country of birth, education, economic stress, and social participation.


In total, 26.6% of all men and 26.9% of all women lack an internal locus of control. The passive, job strain and unemployed categories have significantly higher odds ratios of lack of internal locus of control, as compared to the relaxed reference category. No such significant differences are observed for the active category. These patterns remain in the multivariate models, with the exception of the passive and unemployed categories among men, in which the significant differences disappear.


Psychosocial work conditions and unemployment may affect health locus of control. The control dimension in the Karasek-Theorell model seems to be of greatest importance.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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