Combining care and work: Health and stress effects in male and female academics

Marrie H.J. Bekker*, Peter Jong, Fred R.H. Zijlstra, Bart A.J. van Landeghem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study contributed to an explanation of mixed results (beneficial vs. detrimental health effects) in studies on multiple roles. We hypothesized that self-reported health in working parents might be good, whereas their heavy total workload might be reflected in relatively high scores on more unobtrusive stress measures. Participants were 54 university workers including a group with children (16 women and 18 men; mean age 39) and one without children (8 women and 12 men; mean age 34). Questionnaires were administered reflecting self-reported health and psychological stress responses (e.g., mood states, cognitive failures). In addition, a physiological measure of stress, cortisol in saliva, was taken. The group with children reported more psychological complaints than the group without children; no differences were found in number of somatic complaints. Women with children reported more negative mood states and cognitive failures than women without children; men with children manifested slightly less psychological stress than men without children. No systematic group differences were found regarding physiological stress. It was concluded that combining work and care coincides with relatively good self-reported health but clearly has a burden side, particularly in women, in terms of more unobtrusive psychological stress responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-43
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive functioning
  • Gender
  • Mood states
  • Multiple roles
  • Stress
  • Work


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