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Original Research

The associations of humorous coping styles, affective states, job demands and job control with the frequency of upper respiratory tract infection

Sibe Doosje, Martijn P.M. de Goede, Lorenz J.P. van Doornen, Rens van de Schoot

SA Journal of Industrial Psychology; Vol 37, No 2 (2011), 9 pages. doi: 10.4102/sajip.v37i2.863

Submitted: 30 September 2009
Published:  23 May 2011


Orientation: There is some evidence that job demands and job resources such as job control and humorous coping may contribute to the risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI).

Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to test a model including these variables as well as job-related affect, in order to explore their role in the explanation of the frequency of upper respiratory tract infection.

Motivation of the study: This study has been conducted in order to extend our understanding of the role of traditional variables like job demands and job control with humorous coping styles and affective variables with regard to the explanation of the frequency of URTI.

Research design, approach and method: A sample of 2094 employees filled out questionnaires assessing job demands, job control, generic (MSHS-C), antecedent-focused and responsefocused humorous coping (QOHC) and job-related affect (JAWS).

Main findings: Job demands were indirectly related to the frequency of upper respiratory tract infections, mediated by their relationships with job control and negative job-related affect. Generic and response-focused humorous coping were less relevant for the explanation of the frequency of upper respiratory tract infections than the presumably ‘healthy’ antecedentfocused humorous coping style. The latter showed a negative association with negative jobrelated affect. The frequency of upper respiratory tract infections was better predicted by job control and negative job-related affect than by humorous coping, in the expected directions.

Practical/managerial implication: These findings may have practical relevance for the improvement of stress management interventions in organisations.

Contribution/value-add: Although it was shown that healthy humorous coping does contribute to decreases in upper respiratory tract infection, job demands, job resources and negative affective state seem the most important predictors.

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Author affiliations

Sibe Doosje, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Martijn P.M. de Goede, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Lorenz J.P. van Doornen, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Rens van de Schoot, Utrecht University, Netherlands


antecedent-focused humorous coping; psychoneuroimmunology; health psychology; survey research; cross-sectional


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