33 A clinical approach of workaholism

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Abstract

Introduction

To date, no definition of workaholism can be considered as consensual. Some authors propose a behavioural approach with a cognitive side (an inner drive) and a behavioural side (working excessively). But with this perspective, the place for subjectivity is rather small and clinical descriptions of workaholism are scarce. In this context, we aimed to describe case-reports of patients suffering from workaholism.

Methods

We describe case-reports from patients who went to the occupational disease centre of Brest University Hospital, France between November 2013 and July 2016. Consultations were performed by a single physician, specialised in work-related mental disorders with the methods of clinical occupational medicine, as described by Davezies. Included patients were those with a diagnostic of workaholism. The diagnostic has been performed regarding Goodman’s common criteria of addictions.

Results

During the period of interest, 168 patients have consulted for a work-related mental trouble. Of these, 8 patients suffered from workaholism (4 female and 4 male). Mean age at diagnostic time was 44.1 years. Three clinical situations will be detailed: a 41 years old door-to-door canvasser selling goods for craft workers, a 51 years old nurse in a hospital, and a 30 years old saleswoman in a cooperative selling farming goods.

Discussion

Clinical descriptions allow to highlight some characteristic elements among patients suffering from workaholism: variable remuneration linked to the worker’s commercial performance, the use of a professional telephone during weekends and free time, storage of professional stuff at home, huge ambivalence between the will to go on working while knowing that work is degrading health, addictive comorbidities (tobacco, alcohol consumption, anorexia). There is a need for a work sociopsychologic approach of the situation, associating individual healthcare and improvements on the working environment. The latter part is often lacking but it offers the best long-term efficacy.

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