Addiction to work: A critical review of the workaholism construct and recommendations for assessment

Quinones, Cristina and Griffiths, Mark D. (2015). Addiction to work: A critical review of the workaholism construct and recommendations for assessment. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 53(10) pp. 48–59.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3928/02793695-20150923-04

Abstract

Workaholism was first conceptualized as a behavioral addiction featuring compulsive use and interpersonal conflict back in the early 1970s. The present paper briefly examines the empirical and theoretical literature over the past four decades. In relation to the conceptualization and measurement, it is highlighted how the concept of workaholism has suffered from using dimensions based on anecdotal evidence, ad-hoc measures with weak theoretical foundation, and poor factorial validity of multidimensional conceptualizations. The benefits of building upon the addiction literature to conceptualize workaholism are presented (including the only instrument that has used core addiction criteria – the Bergen Work Addiction Scale). Problems estimating accurate prevalence estimates of work addiction are also presented. Finally, individual and socio-cultural risk factors, and the negative consequences of workaholism from the addiction perspective are discussed (depression, burnout, poor health, life dissatisfaction, family/relationship problems). The paper concludes by summarizing how current research can be used to evaluate workaholism by psychiatric-mental health nurses in clinical practice, including primary care and mental health settings.

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