Job strain, time strain, and well-being: A longitudinal, person-centered approach in two industries

Wen Fan, Phyllis Moen, Erin L. Kelly, Leslie B. Hammer, Lisa F. Berkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The notion of constellations is central to many occupational health theories; empirical research is nevertheless dominated by variable-centered methodologies. Guided by the job demands-resources framework, we use a person-centered longitudinal approach to identify constellations of job demands and resources (task-based and time-based) over time that predict changes in well-being. We situate our research in two dissimilar, but growing, industries in the United States—information technology (IT) and long-term care. Drawing on data collected over 18 months, we identify five patterned, stable constellations of job demands/resources using group-based multi-trajectory modeling: (1) high strain/low hours, (2) high strain/low hours/shift work, (3) high strain/long hours, (4) active (high demands, high control), and (5) lower strain (lower demands, high control). IT workers are overrepresented in the lower-strain and active constellations, whereas long-term care providers are more often in high-strain constellations. Workers in the lower-strain constellation experience increased job satisfaction and decreased emotional exhaustion, work-family conflict and psychological distress over 18 months. In comparison, workers in high-strain job constellations fare worse on these outcomes, as do those in the active constellation. Industrial contexts matter, however: Compared with long-term care workers, IT workers’ well-being is more at risk when working in the “high strain/long hours” constellation. As the labor market continues to experience structural changes, scholars and policy makers need to attend to redesigning the ecological contexts of work conditions to promote workers’ well-being while taking into account industrial differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-116
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Job demands-resources model
  • Job satisfaction
  • Job strain
  • Schedule control
  • Subjective well-being
  • Work hours
  • Work-family conflict
  • Working conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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