Business Trips Cause Stress at Home
of Travelers Have More Mental Health, Skin, Gut Problems
March 8, 2002 -- Stressed out by your
spouse's frequent business trips? You're not alone. Partners of frequent
business travelers are three times as likely to suffer mental health problems,
says a new study.
"It is beginning to be understood that the
boundary between the workplace and the home is permeable," says lead author L.
A. Dimberg, a researcher with The World Bank in Washington, D.C. Dimberg's paper
appears in a recent issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
"Enlightened companies are acknowledging
this conflict as a legitimate business issue" and making changes, he says.
Dimberg's study looked at health insurance
claims made by spouses of World Bank employees, two-thirds of whom travel at
least once a year (one-third travel at least four times a year).
More than 4,600 spouses made a claim
during the one-year study period. Female spouses were twice as likely to file
claims as male spouses. Male employees also traveled more often than female
employees, he reports.
Dimberg also found that:
- Irrespective of gender, male and female spouses of
frequent business travelers overseas filed 16% more claims than spouses of
- Spouses of frequent travelers were twice as likely
to file claims for psychological stress-related disorders.
- Four or more overseas assignments a year tripled the
claims for spouses' stress-related conditions.
- Medical insurance claims for skin and gut disorders
were significantly higher among male spouses of frequent business travelers.
Skin diseases such as psoriasis and
dermatitis -- as well as gut problems such as gastritis, irritable colon, and
inflammatory bowel disease (for example, Crohn's disease) -- have been linked
with psychological stress, he says.
The number of days away from home, changes
in travel dates and their adverse effects on family plans, and lack of control
over travel all were factors in the stress.
"It was clear that for the female spouses,
a traveling husband means a disruption of family life, difficulties with
children, and feelings of missing the traveler," writes Dimberg.
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