Open Access Open Badges Research article

Persistent work-life conflict and health satisfaction - A representative longitudinal study in Switzerland

Michaela K Knecht1*, Georg F Bauer1, Felix Gutzwiller2 and Oliver Hämmig1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Public & Organizational Health, Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich, and Center of Organizational and Occupational Sciences, ETH Zurich, Switzerland

2 Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich, Switzerland

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:271  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-271

Published: 29 April 2011



The objectives of the present study were (1) to track work-life conflict in Switzerland during the years 2002 to 2008 and (2) to analyse the relationship between work-life conflict and health satisfaction, examining whether long-term work-life conflict leads to poor health satisfaction.


The study is based on a representative longitudinal database (Swiss Household Panel), covering a six-year period containing seven waves of data collection. The sample includes 1261 persons, with 636 men and 625 women. Data was analysed by multi-level mixed models and analysis of variance with repeated measures.


In the overall sample, there was no linear increase or decrease of work-life conflict detected, in either its time-based or strain-based form. People with higher education were more often found to have a strong work-life conflict (time- and strain-based), and more men demonstrated a strong time-based work-life conflict than women (12.2% vs. 5%). A negative relationship between work-life conflict and health satisfaction over time was found. People reporting strong work-life conflict at every wave reported lower health satisfaction than people with consistently weak work-life conflict. However, the health satisfaction of those with a continuously strong work-life conflict did not decrease during the study period.


Both time-based and strain-based work-life conflict are strongly correlated to health satisfaction. However, no evidence was found for a persistent work-life conflict leading to poor health satisfaction.

work-life conflict; work-family conflict; health; longitudinal analysis; mixed model analysis; Switzerland