Researchers investigate, for the first time, psychological distress in chefs and the relationship with health complaints. Job duration and length of the working day lead to negative effects on mental and/or physical illness, including musculoskeletal and cardiovascular complaints. These are the main results of the study involving 710 Italian chefs, promoted by the Italian Chefs Federation with the collaboration of CNR-Irib, published on Frontiers public health.
The chef is one of the most famous work categories exposed to major occupational stress factors. This is mainly dependent upon the long hours’ culture in a kitchen often demanded by management. However, a quantitative and empirical evaluation of stress-related factors and health complaints in this work category has never been conducted.
This question was answered by a study promoted by the Italian Chefs Federation (FIC) and directed by the Institute for Biomedical Research and Innovation of the National Research Council (CNR-Irib), in which the University "Magna Graecia" of Catanzaro participated. "Accumulated stress at work has been associated with increased odd to develop mental and organic disorders in several work categories, but none have investigated what happens in the Chef realm", explains Antonio Cerasa, study coordinator and Researcher at Cnr-Irib.
"The chef ’s workplace is characterized by a demanding work environment and stress factors such as working in small units with hot temperatures, sleepless nights, excessive pressures/workload" says Rocco Pozzulo, President of FIC, which has almost 20 thousand members throughout Italy.
The study established, for the first time, a link between stress, work and health in the Chefs using an analytical approach. To carry out this epidemiological research, the CNR researchers, thanks to the resources made available by the FIC, developed an App (available for iPhones and Android) where all members of the FIC could connect and fulfill work-related information and psychological/clinical tests. 710 chefs (625 males; average age: 44.4 ± 6.3 years; 34 BMI: 28.5 ± 1.2; working time: 24.9 ± 4.1 years; weekly working hours: 66.4 ± 28.9) participated in the study and 47% of them reported at least two or more health problems.
“To evaluate the causal link between demographical, work-related, clinical and psychological variables, a Structural equation modeling (SEM) statistical modeling approach was used. This analysis allows us to test several hypotheses on the link between some variables at the same time. Considering all variables, SEM model found that only Job duration and length of the working day were significantly associated with the presence of high levels of stress and organic diseases affecting the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. This relationship was mediated by the presence of high level of occupational stress", says Marco Tullio Liuzza, Associate Professor in Psychometrics at the University “Magna Graecia” of Catanzaro.
“The effects of hours of work in inducing poorer physical and psychological health is a very frequent condition in many other work categories (e.g. surgeons, ambulance personnel, white-collar workers, policemen, military, etc.). In fact, it has been demonstrated that working more than 60 h per week significantly increases the odds of the psychosocial stress response and that long work hours are the 3rd cause of death increasing mortality by almost 20%. Further empirical evaluations are needed in other countries to replicate our data and increase its external validity.” Concluded Antonio Cerasa
Publication: Cerasa A, Fabbricatore C, Ferraro G, Pozzulo R, Martino I, Liuzza MT. Work stress in chef: a predictive model of health complaints. Front Pub Heal 2020; doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2020.00068
Istituto per la ricerca e innovazione biomedica Cnr- Irib, Cosenza