A macro-survey in more than one hundred countries aims to reveal and define a health problem that is of increasing concern for health and government institutions
The Universitat Rovira i Virgili is taking part in a global study on work addiction and the health problems it causes, the aim of which is to raise awareness about a problem that is of increasing concern for health institutions and governments. The project, led by the two Polish universities of Silesia and Gdansk and with the participation of institutions from more than a hundred countries worldwide, should raise awareness and define work addiction so that it can be better prevented, detected and treated.
María José Serrano, a researcher at the Research Center for Behavior Assessment (CRAMC) of the URV’s Department of Psychology, and a participant in the study, explains that the first part of the project consists of a wide-ranging survey (accessible here) which is particularly reliable since several hundred will be carried out in each of the 100 participating countries. Serrano explains: “The survey will give us an overview, the current severity, if there are many addicts, how many are at risk, and this will enable us to make a full diagnosis to fight it.”
María José Serrano points out that the survey will have particular impact on prevention, since once it has been done the participants will be sent a report with their results, which will help to detect possible cases before they are too severe and raise awareness of their relationship with work. “The solutions that are found, such as changes in the workplace, often come too late or when people are already suffering from health problems,” she says.
“Some of the countries taking part have a serious problem with work addiction (for example, Japan). In all countries, it is crucial to raise awareness by making it clear that this is a serious health problem, in which anxiety and stress can lead to other problems, cardiovascular ones for example. The body shouldn’t be put under too much pressure,” says Maria José Serrano, who points out that many companies often do not look negatively on staff who are obsessed with work, as it seems that it increases productivity, but in fact, this attitude can lead to worse performance and time off sick.
This study is the result of the growing concern of health institutions and governments, which recognise the need to develop evidence-based guidelines on mental well-being in the workplace. The people responsible for the study believe that these guidelines cannot be effective if specific action is not taken to prevent and reduce addiction to work and its impact on the labour market. One of the objectives of the project, then, is to influence society and the companies themselves.
The project has a website (https://workaddiction.org/) that gathers state-of-the-art scientific knowledge and provides essential information on the clinical status of the work addict, risk factors, consequences, approaches to prevention and therapeutic interventions. It also aims to be a platform for the international collaboration of scientists, professionals, non-profit organisations, institutions, students and the media. The aim of all this is to increase awareness about work addiction, provide information that is as accurate as possible and combine efforts to counteract this highly individual, social and economic problem.