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Int J Behav Med. 2014;21(5):750-6. doi: 10.1007/s12529-013-9345-7.

Associations between supportive leadership and employees self-rated health in an occupational sample.

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Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany,



Protecting the health of the work force has become an important issue in public health research.


This study aims to explore potential associations between supportive leadership style (SLS), an aspect of leadership behavior, and self-rated health (SRH) among employees.


We drew on cross-sectional data from a cohort of industrial workers (nā€‰=ā€‰3,331), collected in 2009. We assessed employees' ratings of supportive, employee-oriented leadership behavior at their job, their SRH, and work stress as measured by the effort-reward model and scales measuring demands, control, and social support. Logistic regression estimated odds ratios (ORs) and corresponding 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between the perception of poor SLS and poor SRH controlling for work-related stress and other confounders. Sensitivity analyses stratified models by sex, age, and managerial position to test the robustness of associations.


Perception of poor SLS was associated with poor SRH [OR 2.39 (95 % CI 1.95-2.92)]. Although attenuated following adjustment for measures of work-related stress and other confounders [OR 1.60 (95 % CI 1.26-2.04)], the magnitude, direction, and significance of this association remained robust in stratified models in most subgroups.


SLS appears to be relevant to health in the workplace. Leadership behavior may represent a promising area for future research with potential for promoting better health in a large segment of the adult population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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