The moderating role of job resources in the relationship between job demands and interleukin‐6 in an Italian healthcare organization

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Work‐related stress (WRS) may be considered the process by which perceived characteristics of the work environment (i.e., job stressors) trigger psychophysical strain, the psychological, physiological, physical, and behavioral responses in the individual that are associated with both short and long‐term changes in health (Ganster & Rosen, 2013; Girardi et al., 2015; Nixon, Mazzola, Bauer, Krueger, & Spector, 2011). WRS is a widespread phenomenon in the healthcare sector (Adriaenssens, De Gucht, & Maes, 2015; Wilkins, 2007), which may have detrimental consequences for both the workers and the organizations, in terms of reduced quality of care, increased sickness absences, and early retirement (Clausen, Nielsen, Carneiro, & Borg, 2012; Friis, Ekholm, Hundrup, Obel, & Grønbæk, 2007; Poghosyan, Clarke, Finlayson, & Aiken, 2010). Therefore, in terms of prevention and early intervention, it is important to investigate both risk and protective factors for work‐related stress and seek better understanding of psycho‐physiological mechanisms that explain the relationship between job stressors and long‐term consequences of WRS.
Accordingly, in line with the Job Demands‐Resources (JD‐R) model, the aim of this study was to investigate the association between job demands (i.e., risk factors), job resources (i.e., protective factors), and serum levels of a possible biomarker of stress, the pro‐inflammatory cytokine interleukin‐6 (IL‐6), in a sample of workers of an Italian public healthcare organization, an acute care hospital. More specifically, according to the buffer hypothesis of the JD‐R model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007, 2017; Xanthopoulou et al., 2007), we expected job resources (JR) to affect the association between job demands (JD) and IL‐6, so that this association is stronger for individuals with low levels of JR, and the levels of IL‐6 are highest when JD are high and JR are low.
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