Occupational health and well-being among paid care workers

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2021-08-05

Authors

Pivnick, Lilla Kármán

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Abstract

Work is a meaning laden, but stressful social institution with complex and sometimes contradicting implications for wellbeing. Taking a biopsychosocial approach, this dissertation adapts models of work-related stress typically applied at the individual level to the occupational level and examines how occupational requirements may be appraised differently by workers with different ramifications for their self-reported and underlying wellbeing, even early in the career. Using the care workforce as a case study (e.g., nurses, teachers), it investigates associations between occupational requirements and indicators of early-career wellbeing for a growing, essential, and increasingly diverse segment of the workforce. The aims of this dissertation are to (1) highlight differences in wellbeing between care workers and non-care workers; (2) identify ways that occupational-level requirements shape wellbeing, and (3) show which members of the care workforce shoulder the burdens of this type of work, both prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results have wide-ranging implications for not only scholars who study work but also for policy makers, care workers themselves, and care-receiving clients. Together, this dissertation helps build a more comprehensive understanding of how worker wellbeing is stratified by occupation in ways that contribute to inequalities in population health.

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