The Influence of Employer Support on Employee Management of Chronic Health Conditions at Work

Introduction This study examined the relationship between employer support, self-efficacy and self-management of chronic illness at work. Method 772 employees reporting musculoskeletal pain (n = 230), arthritis and rheumatism (n = 132), asthma (n = 129), depression and anxiety (n = 121), heart disease (n = 80) and diabetes (n = 80) completed a questionnaire distributed across four large organizations. A modified version of the Self-Efficacy to Manage Symptoms Scale and the Self-Management Behaviors Scale were used. Support from line manager and occupational health were assessed. Results Structural equation modelling analyses revealed that line managers support was directly related to employees' self-management of symptoms and medication at work. All three self-efficacy measures (beliefs about the ability to make adjustments, take medication and manage symptoms at work) partially mediated the relationship between line manager support and the use of medication at work. Self-efficacy beliefs in taking medication and making work adjustments also partially mediated the relationship between line manager support and self-management of symptoms at work. In contrast, there were no direct relationship between occupational health support and two self-management behaviors. Self-efficacy beliefs about making adjustments at work fully mediated the relationship between support from occupational health and self-management behaviors. Conclusions Employer support in developing both symptom-related and work-related self-efficacy for medication adherence and symptom management is important for those working with a chronic illness.


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