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05.11.2015 | Original Article | Ausgabe 4/2016

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 4/2016

Associations of psychosocial working conditions and working time characteristics with somatic complaints in German resident physicians

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health > Ausgabe 4/2016
Nina Fischer, Christiane Degen, Jian Li, Adrian Loerbroks, Andreas Müller, Peter Angerer



Somatic complaints (SC) are highly prevalent in working populations and cause suffering and extensive health-care utilization. Adverse psychosocial working conditions as conceptualized in the Job Demand-Control-Support Model (JDC-S) and adverse working time characteristics (WTC) are potential risk factors. This combination is particularly common in hospital physicians. This study examines associations of JDC-S and WTC with SC in resident physicians from Germany.


A cross-sectional study was conducted among 405 physicians at the end of residency training. SC were measured using the Giessen Subjective Complaints List (GBB-24) containing the sub-categories exhaustion, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular complaints. Data on working conditions were collected by a self-report method for work analysis in hospitals (TAA-KH-S) and by questions on WTC (i.e., working hours). Multivariable stepwise regression analyses were applied.


Workload showed the most pronounced relationship with all sub-categories of SC except gastrointestinal complaints. Job autonomy was not significantly related to any SC sub-category. Social support at work was inversely associated with all SC sub-categories except for cardiovascular complaints. Free weekends were associated with reduced SC except for exhaustion. Shift work was related to an increased SC total score and musculoskeletal complaints. Working hours showed no association with SC.


In resident physicians, high workload and shift work are associated with increased SC, while social support at work and free weekends are associated with decreased SC. These insights may inform the development of preventive measures to improve the health of this professional group. Prospective studies are needed though to corroborate our findings.

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