According to new research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), there’s a strong association between work-family conflict and the likelihood of smoking.

Candace Nelson, research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health, Lisa Berkman, director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and Glorian Sorensen, professor of society, human development, and health and director of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute Center for Community-Based Research, along with Yi Li of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, analyzed data on 452 New England long-term-care facility workers from interviews conducted in 2006 and 2007. They chose to study long-term-care workers because their jobs are physically and emotionally demanding, don’t pay that well, and are likely to be associated with adverse health consequences.

Work-family conflict refers to a situation in which expectations or demands from one of those domains affects the other. The HSPH researchers considered the direction of the conflict—that is, work interfering with family and vice-versa—because previous research has shown that different directions can lead to different outcomes.

Workers who experienced conflict in both directions—that is, both stress at home from work (“work-to-home” conflict) and stress at work from personal issues (“home-to-work” conflict)—were 3.1 times more likely to smoke than those who didn’t experience these two types of conflict, the researchers found.

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