Family Concerns & Work

Both parents bring family concerns to work and work concerns home.

Whether parent is Mom or Dad has little effect on negative work-family impact.

The American Psychological Association


WASHINGTON -- A new study report appearing in the inaugural issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Occupational Health Psychology indicates that gender has virtually no bearing on how parents physically or psychologically respond to situations wherein work interferes with family life (W-F) or family life interferes with work (F-W). This report shows that, contrary to popular corporate, and often societal belief, the management of the work-family interface is not a women's issue; it is an issue that impacts all working parents, regardless of gender.

The study, which actually consisted of two separate studies that used a randomly selected sample of working parents, tested three separate hypotheses:

1) Both W-F and F-W conflict will be independently and positively related to depression, poor physical health, and heavy alcohol consumption;

2a) Women will be more strongly affected than men by the interference imposed by work on family life (W-F) and, thus, experience greater degrees of depression, poor physical health and heavy alcohol consumption, and

2b) Men will be more adversely affected by family life interfering with work (F-W), which would be illustrated by the same health outcomes.

While hypothesis 1 (Both W-F and F-W conflict will be independently and positively related to depression, poor physical health, and heavy alcohol consumption) was supported, neither hypothesis 2a nor 2b was supported.

Thus, these findings suggest, gender has no significant bearing on how parents are affected by the various conflicts imposed by the work-family interface. Moreover, these results point up the paucity to date of effective means developed by employers to help employees manage the work-family conflict.

In terms of practical implications, these results suggest that employers should not overlook W-F and F-W conflict as sources of stress in the lives of both employed mothers and fathers. Prior research by the authors and other researchers indicates that employees are better at managing the potentially disrupting influence of their family demands on work life than they are at managing the potentially disrupting influence of their work-related demands on home life. To date, strategies implemented to date by employers have sought to mitigate the impact of F-W conflict, with an eye toward improving employee productivity while on the job, and have paid less attention to how work might be negatively affecting the employee's family life.

The authors point out, however, that merely developing strategies and programs to reduce either type of work-family conflict is not enough. Employees (and, by extension, their employers) would be better served if the latter fostered a corporate culture in which the former felt comfortable taking advantage of available resources.



"Work-Family Conflict, Gender, and Health-Related Outcomes: A Study of Employed Parents in Two Community Samples,"
by Michael R. Frone, Ph.D., Marcia Russell, Ph.D., and Grace M. Barnes, Ph.D.,
Research Institute on Addictions.
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology,
Volume 1, Number 1, pp. 57-69.

(Full text available from the APA Public Affairs Office.)

Date: January 29, 1996
Contact: Doug Fizel
Public Affairs Office
(202) 336-5700



The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 142,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 49 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 58 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

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