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The psychosocial and health effects of workplace reorganisation. 2. A systematic review of task restructuring interventions

Abstract

Objective: To systematically review the health and psychosocial effects (with reference to the demand–control–support model) of changes to the work environment brought about by task structure work reorganisation, and to determine whether those effects differ for different socioeconomic groups.

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

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

Results: Nineteen studies were reviewed. Some task-restructuring interventions failed to alter the psychosocial work environment significantly, and so could not be expected to have a measurable effect on health. Those that increased demand and decreased control tended to have an adverse effect on health, while those that decreased demand and increased control resulted in improved health, although some effects were minimal. Increases in workplace support did not appear to mediate this relationship.

Conclusion: This systematic review suggests that task-restructuring interventions that increase demand or decrease control adversely affect the health of employees, in line with observational research. It lends support to policy initiatives such as the recently enforced EU directive on participation at work, which aims to increase job control and autonomy.

  • systematic review
  • health inequalities
  • psychosocial work environment

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