The impact of the introduction of visual display terminals on the job characteristics, job satisfaction and well-being of users in government offices
The proliferation of visual display terminals (VDTs) in offices is an international phenomenon. Numerous studies have investigated the health implications which can be categorised into visual problems, symptoms of musculo-skelctal discomfort, or psychosocial effects. The psychosocial effects are broader and there is mixed evidence in this area. The inconsistent results from the studies of VDT work so far undertaken may reflect several methodological shortcomings. In an attempt to overcome these deficiencies and to broaden the model of inter-relationships a model was developed to investigate their interactions and Ihc outputs of job satisfaction, stress and ill health. The study was a two-stage, long-term investigation with measures taken before the VDTs were introduced and the same measures taken 12 months after the 'go-live' date. The research was conducted in four offices of the Department of Social Security. The data were analysed for each individual site and in addition the total data were used in a path analysis model. Significant positive relationships were found at the pre-implementation stage between the musculo-skeletal discomfort, psychosomatic ailments, visual complaints and stress. Job satisfaction was negatively related to visual complaints and musculo-skeletal discomfort. Direct paths were found for age and job level with variety found in the job and age with job satisfaction and a negative relationship with the office environment. The only job characteristic which had a direct path to stress was 'dealing with others'. Similar inter-relationships were found in the post-implementation data. However, in addition attributes of the computer system, such as screen brightness and glare, were related positively with stress and negatively with job satisfaction. The comparison of the data at the two stages found that there had been no significant changes in the users' perceptions of their job characteristics and job satisfaction but there was a small and significant reduction in the stress measure.