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Combining care and work: Health and stress effects in male and female academics

  • Marrie H. J. Bekker
  • Peter F. de Jong
  • Fred R. H. Zijlstra
  • Bart A. J. van Landeghem
Article

Abstract

This study contributed to an explanation of mixed results (beneficial vs. detrimental health effects) in studies on multiple roles. We hypothesized that self-reported health in working parents might be good, whereas their heavy total workload might be reflected in relatively high scores on more unobtrusive stress measures. Participants were 54 university workers including a group with children (16 women and 18 men; mean age 39) and one without children (8 women and 12 men; mean age 34). Questionnaires were administered reflecting self-reported health and psychological stress responses (e.g., mood states, cognitive failures). In addition, a physiological measure of stress, cortisol in saliva, was taken. The group with children reported more psychological complaints than the group without children; no differences were found in number of somatic complaints. Women with children reported more negative mood states and cognitive failures than women without children; men with children manifested slightly less psychological stress than men without children. No systematic group differences were found regarding physiological stress. It was concluded that combining work and care coincides with relatively good self-reported health but clearly has a burden side, particularly in women, in terms of more unobtrusive psychological stress responses.

Key words

stress multiple roles work gender cognitive functioning mood states 

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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marrie H. J. Bekker
    • 1
  • Peter F. de Jong
    • 2
  • Fred R. H. Zijlstra
    • 1
  • Bart A. J. van Landeghem
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Health Psychology/ Department of Women’s StudiesTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of EducationUniversity of AmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.St. Elisabeth HospitalTilburgThe Netherlands

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