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The association between control and work stress in women

18 April 1997


This paper is a review of the literature on actual and perceived control and the association with levels of work stress among American and West European women. Women face differential risk for work stress due to the interaction among certain external and internal factors. Research on the external factor of job control! decision latitude, based on Karasek's model, is discussed. Job conditions associated with gender are a more significant predictor of work stress than biological gender. Female-dominated occupations with high demand/low control have "built-in" strain. Research on internal factors of locus of control, perceived control, and emotion-focused and problem-focused coping strategies, as defined by Lazarus and Folkman, is discussed. The existence of gender differences in coping efforts is also explored. Gender-role beliefs play a stronger role than biological gender in the selection of coping strategies, and the controllability of the stressor determines the appropriateness of strategies. Recommendations for treatment programs and future research are offered.


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