The relative salience of daily and enduring influences on off-job reactions to work stresses

Work stress is an important determinant of employee health and wellness. The occupational health community is recognizing that one contributor to these relationships may be the presence of negative off-job reactivity to work, which we argue involves continued thoughts directed towards work (cognitive reactivity), continued negative mood stemming from work (affective reactivity), and the alteration of post-work behaviours in response to work factors (behavioural reactivity). We explored the relative contributions of daily work stressors, affective traits, and subjective job stress perceptions to negative off-job reactivity. These relationships were evaluated in a study of hospital nurses (n = 75), who completed trait measures and then provided self-assessments of daily work stress and off-job reactions for four work days. The results of several multilevel analyses indicated that a main-effects model best described the data when predicting cognitive, affective, and behavioural reactivity from daily work stressors, affective traits, and subjective job stress perceptions. A series of multilevel dominance analyses revealed that subjective job stress perceptions dominated the prediction of behavioural reactivity, while trait negative affect dominated the prediction of affective reactivity. Theoretical implications and the relative salience of daily and enduring contributors to negative off-job reactivity are discussed.