Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Relationship of Work-Family Conflict to Substance Use among Employed Mothers: The Role of Negative Affect

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Relationship of Work-Family Conflict to Substance Use among Employed Mothers: The Role of Negative Affect

Article excerpt

The growing numbers of women entering the work force, especially those who are married or parents (e.g., Matthews & Rodin, 1989; Piotrkowski, Rapoport, & Rapoport, 1987), has heightened interest among both work and family researchers in exploring the interdependence of work and family roles. A specific outgrowth has been an increased interest in studying the health-related consequences of work-family conflict among employed women with family responsibilities.

Work-family conflict occurs when efforts to fulfill work role demands interfere with one's ability to fulfill family demands and vice versa (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). Because work-family conflict reflects the overall goodness-of-fit between work and family life, it has been conceptualized as an important source of stress that may influence an individual's well-being. For example, identity theory (e.g., Burke, 1991; Schlenker, 1987) posits that work-family conflict may be a potent stressor because it represents a threat or impediment to self-identification. A central tenet of identity theory is that individuals devote considerable time and energy to constructing and maintaining desired identities. Moreover, people are threatened when their self-images are damaged by impediments to self-identifying activities (Burke, 1991; Schlenker, 1987). An impediment represents a "blocking or interruption of activity that has potential implications for people's goals and identity" (Schlenker, 1987, p. 277). Thus, individuals who frequently experience conflict between their work and family roles may be more likely to experience difficulty constructing and maintaining desired work-and family-related self-images, and therefore suffer from a host of deleterious health-related outcomes.

In general, the proposition that work-family conflict is positively associated with adverse outcomes among women is well supported. For example, it has been linked to heightened psychological distress (e.g., Bromet, Dew, & Parkinson, 1990; Frone, Russell, & Cooper, 1991, 1992a; O'Driscoll, Ilgen, & Hildreth, 1992), lowered life satisfaction (e.g., Aryee, 1992; Bedeian, Burke, & Moffett, 1988; Rice, Frone, & McFarlin, 1992), and increases in physical symptomatology (e.g., Frone et al., 1991; Guelzow, Bird, & Koball, 1991). Nonetheless, few studies have examined the relationship of work-family conflict to health-related behaviors among women. Substance use represents one important set of health-related behaviors (e.g., Harris & Heft, 1992). Specifically, the present study focuses on heavy alcohol use and cigarette use for two reasons. First, alcohol consumption and cigarette use continue to be the two most prevalent forms of substance use among adults (Collins, 1993; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990). Second, heavy alcohol use and the number of cigarettes smoked daily have been associated with increases in morbidity, disease-related mortality, and various forms of trauma (e.g., Chesney, 1991; Collins, 1993; Russell, Cooper, Frone, & Welte, 1991; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1988, 1993).

PRIOR RESEARCH

To date, two studies have examined the relationship of work-family conflict to alcohol or cigarette use among women. Bromet et al. (1990) found a marginally significant (p < .07) positive relationship between work-family conflict and usual daily alcohol consumption, and a nonsignificant relationship between work-family conflict and cigarette use among married women in blue-collar jobs. Frone, Russell, and Cooper (1993), using a randomly selected community sample of employed adults who were either married or parents, found that work-family conflict was significantly and positively related to heavy alcohol use (i.e., frequency of intoxication). Moreover, gender did not moderate this relationship, indicating that their finding held for both men and women. The results of these two studies are intriguing because they suggest a potential relationship between women's work-family conflict and increased substance use, in particular, heavy alcohol consumption. …

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