How Stress Hinders Health among Chinese Public Sector Employees: The Mediating Role of Emotional Exhaustion and the Moderating Role of Perceived Organizational Support.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 11 11; 16(22)IJ
Drawing on the conservation of resources theory, this study examines the detrimental effect of hindrance stressors on self-rated health among a sample of Chinese public sector employees. Analysis of survey data based on 404 MPA students from a leading Chinese university who are working in various public organizations across China suggested that hindrance stressors were negatively related to both physical and mental health (β = -0.11, p < 0.01 and β = -0.38, p < 0.001, respectively), and emotional exhaustion mediated those relationships (95% bias-corrected confidence intervals for the indirect effects on physical and mental health based on 5000 bootstrapped samples were -1.64 to -0.35 and -3.51 to -1.81, respectively, excluding 0). Furthermore, perceived organizational support moderated the effect of hindrance stressors on emotional exhaustion (β = -0.10, p < 0.05), and moderated the indirect effects of hindrance stressors on physical and mental health via emotional exhaustion (index of moderated mediation was 0.116 with bootstrapped confidence interval of 0.018-0.296 for physical health, and 0.317 with bootstrapped confidence interval of 0.008-0.663 for mental health). The effects of hindrance stressors were weaker when perceived organizational support was high, suggesting a moderating effect. Our findings not only provide important theoretical contributions to the literature on public employees' work-related stress and associated health outcomes, but also offer practical implications to those who are interested in stress intervention to improve the wellbeing of public employees and general society.