August 15, 2014
Norwegian Study Investigates The Prevalence Of Workaholism Amongst Employees
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Nearly one in 10 employees suffer from some form of workaholism, researchers from the University of Bergen (UiB) Department of Psychosocial Science claim in research published Wednesday in the online edition of the journal PLOS ONE.
In the study, postdoctoral fellow Cecilie Schou Andreassen and her colleagues recruited 2,160 participants between the ages of 18 and 70 randomly selected from a central registry of employers and employees throughout Norway. They discovered that an estimated 8.3 percent of all Norwegians have some form of addiction to their work.
Schou Andreassen’s team developed seven criteria to measure work addiction:
• You think of how you can free up more time to work.
• You spend much more time working than initially intended.
• You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
• You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
• You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
• You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work.
• You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
“If you reply ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of these seven criteria, there is some indication that you may be a workaholic,” she explained. “This is the first scale to use core symptoms of addiction found in other more traditional addictions.”
Among those who took part in the study, 46.6 percent responded “often” or “always” in response to at least one of the criteria, while 27.7 percent did so for two of the criteria and 14.8 percent did so for three of them. Only 0.3 percent of study participants responded “often” or “always” to all of the criteria, while 1.7 percent did so for six of the seven.
The paper, which the authors are calling the first to assess workaholism in a nationally representative sample, found no gender-based differences – both men and women were equally likely to become addicted to their job. Participants were most likely to spend more time working than originally intended (30.5 percent) or deprioritize their hobbies, leisure-time activities or exercise (24.6 percent) due to their jobs, the UiB research team noted.
Schou Andreassen said their findings also suggest that younger adults tended to be affected by workaholism to a greater extent than their older counterparts, but that education level, marital status and part-time versus full-time employment were essentially non-factors. In addition, men and women who were raising children currently living at home were more likely to become addicted to work than those without youngsters to care for.
The researchers also pointed out that “workaholism may have contradictory psychological, physiological, and social outcomes,” according to the university. “As a significant group seemingly is affected, focus on this phenomenon is timely, especially among health professionals and researchers. But employers, politicians, legislators/lawyers, and journalists should also acknowledge the topic as well.”
“As workaholism is not a formal diagnosis the development of treatment models and real treatment offers has been lacking,” added Schou Andreassen. “The fact that more than eight percent of the general work population seems to suffer from workaholism underlines the need for proper treatment and other relevant interventions.”
Schou Andreassen is no stranger to this type of research. In April 2012, redOrbit reported on the new scale developed by her team to measure work addiction, which we have listed above. Called the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, the scale is based on "core symptoms found in more traditional drug addictions; i.e., salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, relapse, problems."
As Connie K. Ho reported at the time, the researchers believe the scale can help in the development and facilitation of treatments for patients.
Never Enough: Lessons from a Recovering Workaholic by Dr. Frank O'Neill