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Chronicity of sexual harassment and generalized work-place abuse: effects on drinking outcomes

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Aims. This study examined the impact of two forms of interpersonal conflict in the work-place, sexual harassment (SH) and generalized work-place abuse (GWA), on drinking outcomes. We hypothesized that SH and GWA would be associated more strongly with negative outcomes than task-related work stressors, especially when SH and GWA were chronic problems. Design. This was a two-wave panel study. Setting. The study was conducted at an urban university in the United States. Participants. Participants were 2038 university employees in four occupational groups (faculty, student, clerical and service workers) who responded to both waves of the survey. Measurements. Data on SH, GWA, task-related stressors and drinking outcomes were gathered from self-report mail questionnaires. Data from 1880 non-abstaining respondents were included in the analyses. Findings. SH and GWA experiences were widespread, typically chronic, and tended to co-occur. In regression analyses controlling for demographics, occupational group, prior drinking and task-related stress, GWA chronicity was linked to increased odds of reporting one or more indicators of problem drinking at time 2, in contrast to onset and remission. SH chronicity coupled with no GWA experiences was also significantly related to increased drinking variability. Task-related stressors generally did not explain significant variance in drinking outcomes. Conclusions. SH and GWA may be better predictors of drinking behavior compared to task-related stressors, particularly when harassment is chronic. Increased attention to conflictual relationships in the work-place, the relationship between SH and GWA and the dynamic nature of stressors in general is necessary in future research on drinking behavior.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA

Publication date: 2000-12-01

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