Workplace Harassment, Macro-Level Stressors, Substance Use and Health Outcomes: A Long-Term Follow-Up

Study at a Glance

Workplace harassment is a traumatic stressor associated with substance use and health outcomes, but long term risk for morbidity and mortality has not been studied. Determining the mechanisms through which prior harassment exposure increases long-term risk for substance abuse and adverse health outcomes would increase public awareness of workplace harassment as a significant health risk. This project aims to advance stress theory and help inform the development of targeted prevention and intervention efforts to help reduce harassment-related adverse effects on health.

Study Aims

Building on our prior work on workplace harassment and substance use, we focus on four aims:

  • Explain long-term consequences of workplace harassment on morbidity and mortality over a 25 year period;
  • Using three approaches, test the role of the following to explain the long-term effects of workplace harassment on psychopathology and adverse health outcomes and death;
    • Substance abuse,
    • Psychological and cognitive mediators (distress, alienation, and rumination),
    • Stress sensitization, and
    • The possible integration of these factors;
  • Examine factors that change the relationships between prior and current stressors and substance abuse, psychopathology, and adverse health outcomes, and;
  • Examine the reliability of long-term recall of prior WH experiences and substance use by comparing current recall to prior reports.

A central innovation of the proposed study is delineating how workplace harassment, a micro-level stressor, may sensitize reactions to later micro- and macro-level stressors, increasing long-term risk for substance abuse, psychopathology, and adverse health outcomes.

The study design tests longitudinal models of the effects of workplace harassment on morbidity and mortality by re-surveying at 3 one-year intervals a cohort of adults first surveyed while employed in 1996 (N=2478). The study considers the numerous factors that explain the long-term effects of workplace harassment on outcomes.

  • First This is the first study of long-term risk for mortality associated with workplace harassment.

  • Follow-Up This study uses the National Death Index to ascertain mortality, including date and cause of death over the entire 25 year follow-up period.

  • Interviews By using an existing 8-wave dataset spanning 10 years, this follow-up study supplements the survey with structured interviews.

For Study Participants

Click here for more information about the study. Interviews and a follow-up study will start next year and third follow-up survey will be administered in 2022.

Work, Non-Work and Well-being Study

Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is titled, “Workplace Harassment, Macro-Level Stressors, Substance Use and Health Outcomes: A Long-Term Follow-Up,” grant number R01AA026868, funded 7/1/2019-6/30/2024.