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Injustice perceptions in the workplace and musculoskeletal disorders: a prospective study of causal associations and underlying mechanisms – FairHealth

FairHealth: Injustice perceptions in the workplace and musculoskeletal disorders: a prospective study of causal associations and underlying mechanisms

The FairHealth project brings together researchers from a variety of social sciences and medical disciplines to create a deeper understanding of the processes by which employees’ perceptions of unfair treatment can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) over time. The objective of FairHealth is to study the time course of unhealthy reactions to perceived injustice, and to produce new and actionable knowledge about whether, why and when injustice at work influences employees’ physical health.

The FairHealth project has three main objectives:

1) Better understand the mechanisms through which (in)justice perceptions affect MSDs <br />We aim to generate a more complete understanding of the process by which justice perceptions affect MSDs. Our central hypothesis is that perceived (in)justice at work will indirectly affect subsequent MSDs via its impact on (poor) psychological detachment from work during off-job; individual and situational boundary conditions on this process will be examined. <br />2) Advancing knowledge on the causal and dynamic associations between (in)justice and MSDs <br />We aim to examine longitudinally the incidence and recurrence of employee MSDs, and show how this is related to (changes in) fairness perceptions over time. Whereas there is accumulating evidence indicating that the direction of the association between justice perceptions and employee psychological well-being is rather in the direction from justice toward well-being than the reverse, evidence concerning the causal associations between justice and MSDs is sorely lacking. In order to provide the evidence that fairness perceptions are an important antecedent of MSDs, we will use a cross-lagged panel design and will examine whether intra-individual changes that might occur over time in fairness perceptions could influence MSDs via changes in mediating variables. <br />3) Disentangling the respective roles of different sources of (in)justice <br />We aim to examine whether the organizational justice–MSDs relationship depends on how employees react differently when they perceive injustice due to their supervisor or their organization. As recent studies underline the importance of incorporating new sources of justice beyond the traditional emphasis on the organization and the supervisor, we will also explore whether external sources of (in)justice, such as clients, as well as internal sources of (in)justice, such as co-workers, impact employee MSDs. Finally, we will explore the potential for joint effects of different sources of justice on employee MSDs.

The FairHealth Project consists of two observational, prospective cohort studies combined with a qualitative investigation. Both cohort studies will include three waves of data collection over a period of two years. We chose a time lag of 1 year and a time frame of 2 years to increase the likelihood that changes in our key variables of interest would be observable. The chosen time intervals allow both for variations in company practices that are known to influence justice perceptions (e.g., pay decisions, performance reviews, organizational changes) and for stress induced physiological changes that can influence MSDs. Finally, the two-year time frame for data collection is realistic and compatible with the four-year duration of an ANR Project. Follow-up of the cohorts will be ensured by six people, including the coordinator of the present project. She will be assisted by a research technician (hired temporarily for the needs of the project), a doctoral student, and four of the partners of the present project who have privileged access to regional networks of occupational physicians.
The qualitative investigation (in depth interviews, observations of work situations and analysis of internal documents) aims at illuminating some of the possible explanations for our quantitative findings (e.g., explain or describe unusual or unexpected results) and better understanding the worker’s experience. Indeed, qualitative methodology has the potential to address aspects of the justice/pain experience that may not be readily captured by quantitative measures and provide a more comprehensive understanding of pain-related factors. As it is likely that our questionnaires will only capture a subset of the factors influencing the recovery processes, a qualitative investigation will help shed further light on these processes and complement our quantitative measures.

Irrelevant/ data are still under collection

The end of data collection for the second cohort is scheduled at the end of february 2020. We hope to gather 2300 usable questionnaires.
The end of data collection for the cohort 1 is scheduled at the end of 2020. We hope to gather 350 usable questionnaires after the 5 waves of collection.

Irrelevant/ data are still under collection.

The FairHealth project brings together researchers from a variety of social sciences and medical disciplines to create a deeper understanding of the processes by which employees’ perceptions of unfair treatment – a psychosocial job stressor – can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) over time. MSDs refer to health problems of the locomotor apparatus and include all forms of ill-health ranging from light, transitory disorders to irreversible, disabling injuries. MSDs are among the most common and costly health problems among working populations, and constitute a major cause of disability and social exclusion. Research indicates that MSDs are not a simple consequence of harmful physical exposures, and that psychosocial factors have substantial influence on MSDs. However, the underlying mechanisms through which psychosocial factors can affect MSDs, as well as the contingencies of these processes, are not adequately understood. The objective of FairHealth is to study the time course of unhealthy reactions to perceived injustice, and to produce new and actionable knowledge about whether, why and when injustice at work influences employees’ physical health. The project consists of two observational, prospective cohort studies combined with a longitudinal qualitative investigation. By combining theoretical frameworks and methods stemming from several relevant disciplinary fields, FairHealth is likely to generate significant scientific, economic and social impacts.

Project coordinator

Madame Caroline MANVILLE (Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - Centre de Recherche en Management)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

UGA - PACTE Université Grenoble Alpes - Politiques Publiques, Actions Politiques, Territoires
CHRU Lille Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Lille - Laboratoire Universitaire de Médecine du Travail
INSERM - IRSET - ESTER - UA INSERM - Institut de Recherche en Santé Environnement et Travail - Épidémiologie en Santé au Travail et Ergonomie - Université Angers
INSERM - CESP - UVSQ INSERM - UMS011 Cohortes épidémiologiques en population
UNS - LAPCOS Université Nice Sophia Antipolis - Laboratoire d'Anthropologie et de Psychologie Cognitive et Sociale
UPS - LEASP LABORATOIRE D'EPIDEMIOLOGIE ET ANALYSES EN SANTE PUBLIQUE : RISQUES, MALADIES CHRONIQUES ET HANDICAPS
UT1C - CRM Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - Centre de Recherche en Management

Help of the ANR 367,411 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: April 2018 - 48 Months

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