Job complexity, simplicity linked to substance use

September 20, 1999

Many people drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or marijuana to cope with the fact that their jobs are either too complex or not demanding enough in relation to their cognitive abilities, according to a new study conducted by Greg R. Oldham, Ph.D., and Benjamin I. Gordon at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"When individuals' cognitive abilities match the demands or requirements of their jobs, they use relatively small amounts of licit and illicit substances," say Oldham and Gordon. "But when a job complexity-cognitive ability mismatch occurs, individuals respond by using greater amounts of substances."

The researchers base their findings on data collected from more than 7,000 people interviewed as part of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Participants reported on their substance use and employment and completed a standard aptitude test. The investigators assessed the complexity of the jobs by estimating the training, skills, and abilities necessary to perform them. They report their findings in the current issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

Among workers with lower cognitive ability, those in more complex jobs used more cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana compared with workers with less complex jobs, the researchers found. Among workers with higher cognitive ability, in contrast, the more complex their jobs, the lower their use of these substances. Interestingly, the level of cocaine use remained unrelated to cognitive ability and job complexity.

"People may use substances to soothe the frustration they experience as a result of being over- or understretched by their jobs," say the researchers. "They are just as likely to use large amounts of substances in situations where their cognitive abilities exceed the demands of their jobs as they are when they fail to meet the jobs' demands."

To reduce employee substance use, Oldham and Gordon suggest that workers' cognitive abilities should be assessed systematically. Employers can then consider reassigning them or restructuring their jobs to match their abilities.
-end-
The Journal of Health and Social Behavior is a peer-reviewed quarterly publication of the American Sociological Association. For information about the journal, contact John Mirowsky, Ph.D., 614-688-8673.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health http://www.cfah.org. For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, pchong@cfah.org 202-387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Alcohol Articles from Brightsurf:

Alcohol use changed right after COVID-19 lockdown
One in four adults reported a change in alcohol use almost immediately after stay-at-home orders were issued: 14% reported drinking more alcohol and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not drink and those whose use stayed the same.

Changes in hospitalizations for alcohol use disorder in US
Changes over nearly two decades in the rate of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths from alcohol use disorder in the US were examined in this study.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

New alcohol genes uncovered
Do you have what is known as problematic alcohol use?

Does estrogen influence alcohol use disorder?
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that high estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding to female mice.

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.

Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.

Read More: Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.