Work addiction a universal problem around the world, says global study

Credit: Adobe Stock
Credit: Adobe Stock

Work addiction is a global problem and its symptoms are very similar regardless of the country, continent or culture, show preliminary results of an international study conducted with the participation of over 30,000 people from 88 countries.

The research was carried out by a team led by Polish researchers: Dr. Edyta Charzyńska, a professor at the University of Silesia in Katowice and Dr. Paweł Atroszko from the University of Gdańsk (we reported on it here).

The scientists have completed the data collection stage (the survey was completed by over 30,000 people from 88 countries on six continents) and have preliminary results.

'Work addiction is one of the most important challenges in organizational psychology and public health in the 21st century. Our preliminary results indicate that it is a universal problem that manifests itself in a very similar way in all countries - from the United States to the Caribbean republics, South American countries, Africa, Europe, the Middle and Far East, New Zealand in the antipodes,’ Dr. Edyta Charzyńska told PAP - Science in Poland

She adds that while other compulsive behaviours, such as problematic use of social networking sites, tend to be more culturally diverse, the current results suggest that 'the symptoms of work addiction are very similar regardless of the country, continent or culture.’

Dr. Atroszko adds that the key to research covering so many countries and cultures is to develop a set of diagnostic questions (in this case relating to the key symptoms of addiction) that are interpreted similarly by respondents, regardless of their place of residence.

'This is of great importance for further analyses, because one of the goals of the project is to understand what macro-level factors (for example, socioeconomic situation of the country, labour market policy) influence this addiction, and to what extent. We are also interested in the interactions of macro factors with meso-level factors (e.g. organizational culture in a given company) and micro-level factors (e.g. personality),’ he says.

According to the authors, the study 'is not only the largest on work addiction in history, but also one of the largest studies of behavioural addictions comparing so many countries. 'Its results can be used to develop recommendations for governments regarding working conditions in order to minimize health care, social and economic costs related to work addiction and its effects on health and productivity,’ the project leaders say. 

The researchers have now started in-depth research in Poland, which, they believe, may help officially recognize work addiction as a health problem. It involves examining the same people four times every three months. The researchers' goal is to understand the dynamics of the development of work addiction, and in particular expand the knowledge about the potential negative impact of this addiction on health, functioning and productivity.

Working adults can take part in the survey. Respondents who complete the survey in all four measurements will take part in a draw for gift cards worth PLN 200 each, and will receive useful feedback. The survey is available until the end of December.

Global Research on Work Addiction is conducted as part of the project 'The role of macro-, meso-, and micro-level factors in work addiction and related health problems', financed by the Polish National Science Centre.

PAP - Science in Poland, Agnieszka Kliks-Pudlik

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