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J Epidemiol Community Health 61:945-954 doi:10.1136/jech.2006.054965
  • Review
    • Continuing professional education

The psychosocial and health effects of workplace reorganisation. 1. A systematic review of organisational-level interventions that aim to increase employee control

  1. Matt Egan1,
  2. Clare Bambra2,
  3. Sian Thomas1,
  4. Mark Petticrew1,
  5. Margaret Whitehead3,
  6. Hilary Thomson1
  1. 1
    Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, UK
  2. 2
    Centre for Public Policy and Health, School for Health, University of Durham, UK
  3. 3
    Division of Public Health, University of Liverpool, UK
  1. Matt Egan, Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, 4 Lilybank Gardens, Glasgow G128RZ, UK; matt{at}msoc.mrc.gla.ac.uk
  • Accepted 26 February 2007

Abstract

Objective: Systematic review of the health and psychosocial effects of increasing employee participation and control through workplace reorganisation, with reference to the “demand–control–support” model of workplace health.

Design: Systematic review (QUORUM) of experimental and quasi-experimental studies (any language) reporting health and psychosocial effects of such interventions.

Data sources: Electronic databases (medical, social science and economic), bibliographies and expert contacts.

Results: We identified 18 studies, 12 with control/comparison groups (no randomised controlled trials). Eight controlled and three uncontrolled studies found some evidence of health benefits (especially beneficial effects on mental health, including reduction in anxiety and depression) when employee control improved or (less consistently) demands decreased or support increased. Some effects may have been short term or influenced by concurrent interventions. Two studies of participatory interventions occurring alongside redundancies reported worsening employee health.

Conclusions: This systematic review identified evidence suggesting that some organisational-level participation interventions may benefit employee health, as predicted by the demand–control–support model, but may not protect employees from generally poor working conditions. More investigation of the relative impacts of different interventions, implementation and the distribution of effects across the socioeconomic spectrum is required.

Footnotes

  • Sources of support: Economic and Social Research Council and the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: Ethics approval not required (literature review).