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The aim of the study is to examine to what extent human service work and family caregiving is associated with emotional exhaustion and sickness absence, and to what extent combining human service work and family caregiving is associated with additional odds.
Data were derived from participants in paid work from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health, year 2016 (n = 11 951). Logistic regression analyses were performed and odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals estimated for the association between human service work and family caregiving, respectively, as well as combinations of the two on one hand, and emotional exhaustion and self-reported sickness absence on the other hand. Interaction between human service work and family caregiving was assessed as departure from additivity with Rothman’s synergy index.
Human service work was not associated with higher odds of emotional exhaustion, but with higher odds of sickness absence. Providing childcare was associated with higher odds of emotional exhaustion, but lower odds of sickness absence, and caring for a relative was associated with higher odds of both emotional exhaustion and sickness absence. There was no indication of an additive interaction between human service work and family caregiving in relation to neither emotional exhaustion nor sickness absence.
We did not find support for the common assumption that long hours providing service and care for others by combining human service work with family caregiving can explain the higher risk of sickness absence or emotional exhaustion among employees in human service occupations.