Global research on work addiction launched

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Work addiction is one of the most important challenges in 21st century psychology. An international team of experts is investigating factors that contribute most to this addiction, work-related depression and burnout. Over 20,000 surveys have been collected.

One of the results of the research will be developing the best practices for preventing and treating work addiction.

The Global Research on Work Addiction project is conducted in over 70 countries on six continents. The research team consists of over a hundred people, among them the world's leading experts in the field of work addiction, clinical psychologists, as well as occupational and organizational psychologists. The leaders are Dr. Edyta Charzyńska, a professor at the University of Silesia, and Dr. Paweł Atroszko from the University of Gdańsk.

According to Edyta Charzyńska and Paweł Atroszko, work addiction is one of the most important challenges of organizational psychology and public health in the 21st century. 'Research on the prevalence of work addiction shows that it is more common than most other addictive behaviours. Depending on the country, the problem may affect up to every fifth working person,’ the researchers tell PAP.

Work addiction is defined as a behavioural addiction with symptoms similar to substance addictions, such as a strong desire to work, withdrawal symptoms, mood modification as a result of work, conflicts and health problems.

Work addiction is closely related to heavy workload, chronic and significant occupational stress, and occupational burnout. 

Atroszko says: 'In addition, it significantly affects family dysfunctions and generally problematic social functioning. It is also usually associated with reduced productivity. In other words, it has significant negative consequences for the people affected by it, their relatives and recipients of the work of people addicted to it.’

Work addiction may also have an impact on the global burden of disease. 'Its relatively high prevalence, combined with serious and frequent negative effects, means that it may cause significant damage at the level of the entire population, affecting medical and social care systems,’ says Atroszko.

Therefore, one of the objectives of the research project is to provide data on the proportion of the enormous costs of chronic stress in and out of work that can be directly attributed to work addiction worldwide.

'We want to understand which factors contribute most to work addiction, work-related depression and burnout in order to develop best practices to prevent and treat them. The results of this research can provide the scientific basis for developing recommendations for governments regarding working conditions, and influence organizations' policies and procedures regarding the working climate and organizational values in order to minimize the risk of developing work addiction and mitigate its impact on health and well-being,’ says Edyta Charzyńska.

Over 20,000 people took part in the survey. According to the project leaders, after completing the survey, all participants receive detailed feedback on their psychosocial functioning at work, including risks related to work addiction, depression and burnout, as well as potential organizational and individual risk factors affecting their functioning at work.

The Polish version of the survey can be found on this page. The project 'The role of macro-, meso-, and micro-level factors in work addiction and related health problems' is financed by the Polish National Science Centre.

PAP - Science in Poland, Agnieszka Kliks-Pudlik

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