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J Psychosom Res. 2018 Mar;106:73-75. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2018.01.010. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

Gender differences in the relationship between workplace bullying and subjective back and neck pain: A two-wave study in a Norwegian probability sample.

Author information

1
Department of Psychosocial Science, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway. Electronic address: mats.glambek@uib.no.
2
National Institute of Occupational Health, Oslo, Norway; Department of Psychosocial Science, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway.
3
Department of Psychosocial Science, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The association between exposure to bullying at work and subsequent pain reports is relatively well-established, but few studies have examined possible moderators of this relationship. As gender is a known risk factor for pain, with women reporting pain levels of higher intensity and longer duration, a possible gender difference in the relationship between bullying and pain has been suggested, but not sufficiently tested. The objective of the present study was therefore to examine whether gender moderates the prospective relationship between exposure to workplace bullying behaviours and subsequent subjective back and neck pain.

METHODS:

A national probability sample of Norwegian workers (N=1003) was collected at two time points with a six-month time-lag. Assumptions were tested using regression and moderation analyses.

RESULTS:

Exposure to bullying behaviours was associated with increased reports of subjective back and neck pain over time, and this relationship was moderated by gender. However, the interaction took a different form than expected, with back and neck pain increasing in response to bullying among men only, to a degree that nullified the baseline gender difference.

CONCLUSION:

The assumption that being female is a vulnerability factor for the development of pain in the aftermath of psychosocial stressors such as bullying was contradicted in the present study. Instead, women's relatively high baseline pain levels remain stable over time even after exposure to workplace bullying, while men's relatively low baseline pain levels increase in response to bullying, ultimately becoming tangent to the pain reported by women.

KEYWORDS:

Gender; Harassment; Health complaints; Longitudinal; Pain; Workplace bullying

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