Does Job Satisfaction Mediate the Relationships Between Work Environment Stressors and Employee Problem Drinking?
This article was downloaded by: [McMaster University]On: 21 October 2014, At: 12:16Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UKJournal of WorkplaceBehavioral HealthPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wjwb20Does Job Satisfaction Mediatethe Relationships BetweenWork Environment Stressorsand Employee ProblemDrinking?Lisa K. Berger a , Sonya K. Sedivy b , Ron A. Cisler c& Lorna J. Dilley da Helen Bader School of Social Welfare , Universityof Wisconsin , Milwaukeeb Department of Educational Psychology , School ofEducation, University of WisconsinMilwaukee ,c University of Wisconsin School of Medicine andPublic Health , University of WisconsinMilwaukee,and Aurora Health Care, Inc. , Milwaukee, Wisconsind Helen Bader School of Social Welfare , Universityof Wisconsin , MilwaukeePublished online: 11 Oct 2008.To cite this article: Lisa K. Berger , Sonya K. Sedivy , Ron A. Cisler & Lorna J. Dilley(2008) Does Job Satisfaction Mediate the Relationships Between Work EnvironmentStressors and Employee Problem Drinking?, Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health,23:3, 229-243, DOI: 10.1080/15555240802241603To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15555240802241603http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wjwb20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/15555240802241603http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15555240802241603PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. 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SedivyRon A. CislerLorna J. DilleyLisa K. Berger is Assistant Professor of Social Work and Scientist in theCenter for Addiction and Behavioral Health Research (CABHR), HelenBader School of Social Welfare, University of WisconsinMilwaukee.Sonya K. Sedivy is a doctoral student in the Department of EducationalPsychology, School of Education, and CABHR Graduate Assistant,University of WisconsinMilwaukee.Ron A. Cisler is Associate Professor of Health Sciences, College of HealthSciences, and CABHR Scientist, University of WisconsinMilwaukee and isthe Director of the Center for Urban Population Health, University of Wis-consin School of Medicine and Public Health, University of WisconsinMil-waukee, and Aurora Health Care, Inc., Milwaukee, Wisconsin.Lorna J. Dilley is Assistant Director of the Center on Age andCommunity, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, University ofWisconsinMilwaukee.The authors would like to thank the local American Federation of State,County and Municipal Employees union officers and membership for theirparticipation in this study. The authors also would like to thank Michael J.Brondino for his statistical consultation, and Adam Lippert and JenniferHernandez-Meier for their technical and editorial assistance.This study was based upon the lead authors doctoral dissertation, whichwas supported in part by the Chancellors Golda Meir Scholarship, Univer-sity of WisconsinMilwaukee.Address correspondence to: Lisa K. Berger, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, P.O. Box 786, Milwaukee,WI 532010786 (E-mail: email@example.com).Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, Vol. 23(3) 2008Available online at http://www.haworthpress.com# 2008 by The Haworth Press. All rights reserved.doi: 10.1080/15555240802241603 229Downloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 SUMMARY. This study tested a mediation model of work environ-ment stressors, job satisfaction, and employee drinking status. Spe-cifically, decreased job satisfaction was examined as a mediator bywhich work environment stressors may be linked to employee alcoholproblems. Individual social vulnerabilities also were examined aspredictors of employee problem drinking. Study data were derivedfrom self-report mailed surveys, and study participants were union-represented administrative support and blue-collar maintenanceemployees of a large public urban university. Although path analysisresults did not support the role of job satisfaction in linking workenvironment stressors to employee problem drinking, several studyvariables of interest were found to be associated significantly anddirectly with employee problem drinking status. Implications forworkplace alcohol prevention are discussed.KEYWORDS. Alcohol, employees, job satisfaction, problem drink-ing, work stressINTRODUCTIONAs the workplace plays a significant role in American life, there isgood reason to believe that aspects of work environment may influ-ence employee drinking (Trice, 1992). In fact, employee alcohol usemay be influenced by the workplace in distinct ways. On the onehand, the workplace may help to prevent and treat employee alcoholproblems through workplace policies and programs. On the otherhand, the workplace may contain risk factors such as various workstressors that may influence employee problem drinking. Modelsexist such as Frones (1999) general work-stress paradigm thatexplain employee alcohol use as arising in part from factors in thework environment.According to Frones (1999) paradigm, work stress and work alien-ation factors may influence employee alcohol use. Work stressincludes factors such as heavy workload and interpersonal conflictwith coworkers and supervisors. Work alienation factors includework characteristics that are unfulfilling such as limited decisionmaking and the use of minimal skills. In the general work-stress para-digm, stress and alienation factors are treated generally as aspectsof work that may be perceived by employees as stressful in nature.230 JOURNAL OF WORKPLACE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHDownloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 The empirical evidence, however, that supports the relationshipsbetween work environment stressors and employee alcohol use issomewhat tenuous. For example, although job stress and work alien-ation have been found associated with employee drinking behavior,Roman and Blum (2002) report that many studies have found signifi-cant, but small, relationships between work stress and increased levelsof employee alcohol use. In the case of alienation, researchers suchas Seeman, Seeman, and Budros (1988) found an association betweenpowerlessness and problem drinking among employed men. How-ever, powerlessness in their study was measured as a generalized senseof personal mastery versus alienation specific to the workplace. Inaddition, much of the previous research in this area has relied onsimple cause-and-effect models; therefore, more complex modelsare needed to help better explain the existence, if any, of theserelationships.A theoretical framework that may be employed in such an effort isthe spillover model (Grunberg et al., 1998; Martin & Roman, 1996).This model posits that unrewarding job characteristics negativelyaffect employee psychosocial well-being, which then spills over toaffect behavior outside of work. According to Martin and Roman,because of the established connection between work characteristicsand corresponding levels of employee job satisfaction (see alsoShields, 2006), and because of the largely held belief that job dissat-isfaction can affect behaviors outside of work, the role of job satisfac-tion in explaining how work environment stressors are linkedto employee problem drinking is an important one to consider.In fact, some empirical evidence does support this intervening ormediating role. For example, Martin and Roman (1996) found thatamong employed adults decreased job satisfaction explained relation-ships between job stressor characteristics and employee problematicdrinking behaviors. Likewise, Greenberg and Grunberg (1995) intheir study of production workers found that decreased job satisfac-tion and drinking to cope explained relationships between severalwork alienation variables and employee problem drinking. Interest-ingly, the Greenberg and Grunberg and Martin and Roman studiesalso found an unexpected association between lower levels of alien-ation (as measured by higher levels of job autonomy) and employeealcohol problems. Although some empirical evidence exists to sup-port the mediating role of job satisfaction, few studies overall haveinvestigated this specific role.Berger et al. 231Downloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 Therefore, based on Frones (1999) general work-stress paradigmand the spillover model (Grunberg et al., 1998; Martin & Roman,1996), the current analysis examined the relationships between workenvironment stressors, job satisfaction, and employee drinking statusby testing a hypothesized mediation model. Work and non-work-related individual social vulnerabilities found in previous studies tobe associated with employee problem drinking (e.g., Ames & Janes,1987) also were included in the model. To control for possible spuri-ous associations, the proposed model (see Figure 1) examined severalsociodemographic variables as statistical controls.METHODSample and ProceduresThis study employed a cross-sectional survey design. The studysample comprised union-represented Administrative Support Unit(ASU) and Blue Collar (BC) employees of a large, public urban uni-versity located in the Midwest. The sampling frame, which was a listof all represented employees, was supplied by the union local. The listcontained 630 employees and was stratified by occupational category(ASU or BC) and gender. With the exception of ASU women,employees in the other three strata were oversampled (i.e., a dispro-portionate stratified sampling plan) because of the relatively smallnumbers of employees in these groups. Half of the ASU women wereselected randomly whereas all employees from the three other strataFIGURE 1. Conceptual Model Relating Work Environment Stressors andJob Satisfaction to Employee Problem Drinking232 JOURNAL OF WORKPLACE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHDownloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 (ASU men, BC women, and BC men) were selected for studyinclusion, thereby resulting in a total sample of 466 employees selec-ted for study participation.Employees selected for participation were mailed a study survey totheir home address in the fall of 2003. Dillmans (2000) tailored designmethod for mail and Internet surveys was used to maximize surveyresponse rate. Dillmans method included a survey prenotice letterand other strategies such as a small financial incentive included withthe survey, and a second survey mailed to nonrespondents. Of the466 employees selected for study inclusion, 299 completed a useablesurvey, defined in this study as more than 80% completion of thesurveys 171 items, for a survey response rate of 64.2%.The respondent sample (n 299) was similar to the population(N 630) in terms of occupational category and gender with sampleproportions differing from population proportions by less than 2.5%.However, to correct for these small differences and to account for thedisproportionate stratified sampling plan, statistical weights wereassigned based on the population values of each stratum. Thisresulted in a weighted sample of 409 ASU and BC employees of which397 employees had complete drinking data. In addition, becauseemployees who were classified as abstainers would be unlikely touse alcohol to cope with work stressors, these individuals (n 132)were removed from the weighted sample for a final employee sampleof 265.ASU and BC employees have notably different roles and responsi-bilities. ASU employees are paraprofessionals who perform office-based administrative and secretarial work. BC employees performjanitorial and=or maintenance duties and are responsible for an entirebuilding or certain building floors. Despite these differences, bothgroups are represented by the American Federation of State, Countyand Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union. AFSCME is the largestpublic service employees union in the United States (AFSCME,2006). These pink- and blue-collar university employees were selec-ted for study participation because previous research has found thatalthough white-collar employees may drink more frequently, whenblue-collar employees do drink they may drink more problematically(Harford et al., 1992).Permission to conduct this study was obtained from the union localofficers and membership, and the appropriate Institutional ReviewBoard for the protection of human subjects approved this study.Berger et al. 233Downloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 MeasurementMeasures utilized in this study have been employed in previousalcohol and workplace studies (e.g., Ames & Janes, 1987; Daveyet al., 2000; Martin & Roman, 1996; Rospenda et al., 2000). Eachmeasure is described below, and alpha reliability coefficients forcontinuous measures are reported.Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ). The work environment stressorsof job stress and work alienation were measured by the validatedand reliable JCQ (Karasek, 1985; Karasek & Theorell, 1990).Job stress was measured by the JCQ Psychological Demands scale.This 5-item scale assesses the extent to which employees perceive theirjobs to involve excessive work, conflicting demands, not enoughtime to complete work, the need to work fast, and the need to workhard. The scales range is 1248 with higher scores indicating higherlevels of psychological demands (Karasek, 1985). Coefficient alphareliability was 0.74.Work alienation was measured by the JCQ Decision Latitude scale,which comprised two subscalesDecision Authority and Skill Discre-tion. The 3-item Decision Authority subscale assesses the degree towhich an employee perceives the authority to make decisions on thejob, to decide how to do ones work, and to have a say about howthe job is done. The scales range is 1248 with higher scores indicatinghigher levels of decision authority (Karasek, 1985). Coefficient alphareliability was 0.73. The six-item Skill Discretion subscale assesses theextent to which an employee perceives the job to involve learning newthings, a lot of repetitive work (reverse scored), creativity, a high skilllevel, the performance of a variety of different things, and opportu-nities to develop special abilities. The scales range is 1248 withhigher scores indicating higher levels of skill discretion (Karasek,1985). Coefficient alpha reliability was 0.78.Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ). The validated MSQassesses the degree to which employees perceive their jobs as satisfy-ing their vocational needs and values (MSQ, 2007; Weiss, Dawis,England, & Lofquist, 1967). Job satisfaction was measured by the12-item Intrinsic Job Satisfaction subscale of the MSQ short form(20 items). The Intrinsic Job Satisfaction subscale assesses the extentto which employees perceive being satisfied with the ability to, for234 JOURNAL OF WORKPLACE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHDownloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 example, keep busy, do different things, do things that dont goagainst ones conscience, do things for other people, make use ofones abilities, and have feelings of accomplishment. Because thedesire for intrinsic job satisfaction may be more universal to employ-ees than extrinsic job satisfaction (e.g., satisfaction with ones payand amount of work), the Intrinsic versus the Extrinsic Job Satisfac-tion subscale of the MSQ was used in this study. The scales range is1260 with higher scores indicating higher levels of intrinsic job sat-isfaction. Coefficient alpha reliability was 0.89.Individual social vulnerabilities. Employees who answered yes toIn your opinion, was heavy drinking both common and sociallyaccepted in your family of origin, and Did you meet most of yourfriends at work or in a work-related context were considered vulner-able to problem drinking. Employees who answered no to Do youparticipate in non-work-related groups, clubs, or organizations alsowere considered vulnerable to drinking problematically.Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). The 10-itemAUDIT, developed and validated by the World Health Organization(Saunders, Aasland, Babor, de la Fuente, & Grant, 1993), was used tomeasure employee drinking status. The AUDIT measure comprisesthree subscalesalcohol consumption (three items), drinking beha-vior (three items), and alcohol-related problems (four items), whichtaken together screen for hazardous and harmful drinking patterns.Respondents answer the AUDIT questions in reference to the pastyear, and the scales range is 040.Employees were classified into one of the following two drinkinggroupsnonproblem drinkers (AUDIT score the local union also was examined. Sociodemographics in this studywere treated as statistical control variables.Data Reduction and AnalysesPrevalence rates of employee drinking status (i.e., nonproblem andproblem drinking) and bivariate relationships between the workenvironment stressors, job satisfaction, and employee drinking statuswere analyzed using SPSS Complex Samples 13.0. Missing data wereaddressed by employing a multiple imputation procedure based onthe expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm (Klein, 2005). Missingdata were imputed using LISREL 8.54 for the work environmentstressor and job satisfaction variables, which were the primarysources of missing data.Path analysis was employed to test the hypothesized mediationmodel using Mplus 3.12. A variable is supported statistically as amediator if (1) the independent variables are related significantly tothe mediator, (2) the mediator is related significantly to the depen-dent variable, and (3) when controlling these relationships, directrelationships between the independent and dependent variables areeither no longer significant or the strength of these relationships isreduced (Baron & Kenny, 1986; Shrout & Bolger, 2002).Work environment stressor variables at the bivariate level found tobe associated significantly (p value < .05) with job satisfaction andemployee drinking status were included in the final mediation model.This same criterion (p value < .05) was applied to the individualsocial vulnerability and sociodemographic statistical control variablesin terms of their associations with employee drinking status. Finally,the relationship between job satisfaction and employee drinkingstatus was held to the same statistical criterion.To test for mediation, the indirect effects of the work environmentstressor variables on employee drinking status through the mediatorof job satisfaction were specified and obtained in Mplus and tested bythe Sobel method. In addition, based on conceptualization, only thework environment stressor variables were specified to be correlatedwith one another. Last, the final model was assessed for accuracyby the following goodness-of-fit indices: chi-square test of modelfit; Comparative Fit Index (CFI); TuckerLewis Index (TLI); andthe root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA).236 JOURNAL OF WORKPLACE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHDownloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 All statistical software programs used to perform data analysestake into account sample weights in the calculation of standarderrors.RESULTSFinal Mediation ModelAll three work environment stressor variables were included in thefinal model. In general, mean scores on these variables suggested thatemployees experience slight job stress or psychological job demands(M 31.29, SD 5.66; midpoint of 30). In terms of alienation, eventhough employees reported having some authority to make deci-sions (M 32.64, SD 7.49; midpoint of 30), they overall havefewer opportunities to use or acquire different skills (M 25.83,SD 5.67; midpoint of 30). Employees on average, however, reportedbeing satisfied intrinsically with their jobs (M 45.88, SD 7.40;midpoint of 36). In addition to the work environment stressor andjob satisfaction variables, the individual social vulnerabilities of afamily history of heavy drinking and having met most friends atwork, and the sociodemographic variable of gender were includedin the final model. Approximately 25% of employees reported afamily history of heavy drinking, 26% reported having met mostfriends at work, and the majority of employees, approximately68% , were female. Finally, just slightly over 13% of employees wereclassified as problem drinkers.Figure 2 presents the standardized path coefficients of the finalmodel. Three coefficients did not achieve statistical significance,including the path from job satisfaction to employee drinking status.Although each of the work environment stressors were related signi-ficantly to job satisfaction and in the hypothesized direction, becauseof the almost nonexistent relationship between job satisfactionand employee drinking status, job satisfaction did not mediate anyof the relationships between the work environment stressors andemployee drinking status, in particular, employee problem drinking.In addition, the overall path analysis results failed to support the finalmodel. The chi-square test of model fit was significant, v2(8) 20.49,p < .01, thereby indicating that the final model did not fit the studydata (Schumacker & Lomax, 2004). The CFI and RMSEA, however,Berger et al. 237Downloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 yielded acceptable to good indices of .92 and .08, respectively, whereasthe TLI yielded a nonimpressive index of .84. Values above .95 on theCFI and TLI and values of less than .05 on the RMSEA are con-sidered excellent (Hu & Bentler, 1999; Raykov & Widaman, 1995).Despite the lack of support for the role of job satisfaction as amediator of the relationships between the work environment stressorsand employee problem drinking, several study variables of interestwere found to be associated significantly and directly with employeedrinking status. Work alienation in terms of skill discretion (i.e., jobvariety, job creativity, a high skill level, and use of special abilities)was related to employee drinking status such that for every unitincrease in skill discretion there was a corresponding decrease inthe likelihood of an employee being classified as a problem versus anonproblem drinker (t 2.30, p < .05). Reporting a history ofheavy drinking in ones family of origin rather than not increasedthe likelihood of an employee being a problem rather than a nonpro-blem drinker (t 2.77, p < .05). In addition, having met most friendsat work rather than not increased the likelihood of an employee beingFIGURE 2. Standardized Path Coefficients of the Final Mediation ModelRelating Work Environment Stressors and Job Satisfaction to EmployeeProblem Drinking238 JOURNAL OF WORKPLACE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHDownloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 a problem versus a nonproblem drinker (t 2.91, p < .05). Finally,gender was related to employee drinking status whereby being malerather than female increased the likelihood of an employee being aproblem rather than a nonproblem drinker (t 4.21, p < .05).DISCUSSIONBased on previous research, this investigation examined the roleof job satisfaction in explaining how work environment stressorsmay be linked to employee alcohol problems. The results of thisstudy, however, did not support job satisfaction as a mediator of rela-tionships between the work environment stressors examined andemployee problem drinking. In fact, job satisfaction exhibited almostno relationship to employee problem drinking status. Because pre-vious research has supported the role of job satisfaction as a mediatorof these relationships (Greenberg & Grunberg, 1995; Martin &Roman, 1996), future investigation may replicate or refute the cur-rent study findings. Even though job satisfaction as a mediator wasnot supported, the study results did reveal several variables of interestto be related significantly and directly to employee problem drinking.When controlling for gender, lower levels of skill discretion (i.e., lowjob variety, little job creativity, a low skill level, and little use of spe-cial abilities), a history of heavy drinking in ones family of origin,and having met most friends at work each were associated withemployee problem drinking.More specifically, in terms of lower levels of skill discretion,employees who perceived their jobs as alienating in this respect weremore likely to be problem drinkers. This study finding, however, ismixed relative to other empirical investigations. For example, thisfinding is consistent generally with Seeman and colleagues (1988)who found that employees alienated specifically from work andwho were engaged in community social networks had higher levelsof drinking problems. Yet Greenberg and Grunberg (1995) andMartin and Roman (1996) reported an unexpected relationshipbetween lower levels of alienation (as measured by higher levels ofjob autonomy) and employee alcohol problems. Furthermore, inour own research, we too have found lower levels of alienation (asmeasured by higher levels of skill discretion) to be related toemployee problem drinking, but only among employees who metBerger et al. 239Downloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 most of their friends at work or who reported participation in non-work-related social groups (Berger et al., in press). Inconsistent find-ings in the literature as well as those presented here may be the resultof differences in how work alienation was measured (e.g., job auto-nomy vs. skill discretion) and=or subgroups of employees being influ-enced differentially by varying levels of work alienation in terms oftheir alcohol use (i.e., high vs. low alienation).Regarding a history of heavy drinking in ones family of origin,employees who reported this history also were more likely to be prob-lem drinkers, which is consistent with previous research (e.g., Ames &Janes, 1987). Further investigation could examine how this type ofemployee background interacts with the world of work. For example,do employees with such backgrounds tend to select jobs or worksituations that facilitate alcohol use (Ames & Janes, 1992)? Finally,in terms of having met most friends at work, employees who reportedthis social circumstance also were more likely to be problem drinkers,which again is consistent with previous research (Ames & Janes,1987). Additional investigation could examine how these work friend-ships are formed and maintained (e.g., do employees who drinkheavily seek each other out in the workplace?).Several limitations need to be considered when interpreting theresults of this study. First, this study employed a cross-sectionalsurvey design. Therefore, the direction of causal relationships cannotbe established. Although it is plausible to assume that a history ofheavy drinking in ones family of origin preceded an employees drink-ing problem, such directionality cannot be assumed of the other sig-nificant study findings. That is, lower levels of skill discretion orhaving met most friends at work may have contributed to an employ-ees drinking problem; yet it also is possible that individuals whodrink problematically may seek low skill positions to hide an alcoholproblem or seek other employees as friends whose drinking habits aresimilar to their own. Future longitudinal research may help to estab-lish the directionality of these relationships. Second, there is onlymoderate consensus in the literature at best as to what constitutes awork stressor (Grunberg et al., 1998), and though there are somecommonly used work stressor measures, there also is considerablevariability. However, in this investigation, Frones (1999) generalwork-stress paradigm was used to determine the work environmentstressors, and the work stressor measures employed have beenused in previous alcohol and workplace studies. Third, the AUDIT240 JOURNAL OF WORKPLACE BEHAVIORAL HEALTHDownloaded by [McMaster University] at 12:16 21 October 2014 drinking measure used in this study screens for hazardous and harm-ful drinking patterns (Saunders et al., 1993) and therefore does notindicate diagnostically whether or not an employee has a drinkingproblem. In a clinical or community setting, individuals scoring posi-tive on the AUDIT would be assessed further or referred to a specialistfor additional assessment to determine problem presence and severity.Even so, the AUDIT has been found to be highly sensitive and specificin the detection of alcohol problems (Reinert & Allen, 2002). Finally,the generalizability of the study findings may be limited to the type ofemployees and work setting studied in this investigation.In conclusion, although job satisfaction was not found in thisstudy to explain how work environment stressors may be linked toemployee alcohol problems, several other study variables of interestwere identified as risk factors of employee problem drinking. Inparticular, and in terms of workplace alcohol prevention, the studyfinding of having met most friends at work may be the most salientfor prevention efforts. That is, researchers who study workplace sub-stance abuse prevention efforts routinely take into considerationworkplace group culture that encourages employee alcohol use(e.g., Lehman et al., 2003) of which having met most friends at workmay be a product of this culture (cf. Sonnenstuhl, 1996). 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