Applying the Job-Demand-Resources Model in a student population: testing the interaction between resources and demands

  • J. Frisch
  • N. Pham
  • R. Soellner


Background: The Job-Demand-Resources Model (JDR) has lately been transferred to the study context. One central component is a health impairment process which describes the effect of context specific demands on the development of negative job-related outcomes and which operates via exhaustion and is influenced by specific resources. Main effects of demands and resources on exhaustion have already been found in student populations, but the core concept of the model, the interaction of demands and resources, has not been tested yet. Methods: 2395 students (79.7% female) took part in a cross-sectional online survey on study conditions and health. Demands of the study program, resources (control, social support), exhaustion, satisfaction with study program and health symptoms (psychological, physiological) were assessed and subjected to a moderated mediation analysis. Findings: The harmful effects of demands on symptoms and satisfaction were mediated by exhaustion. Moreover, these two mediations were moderated (satisfaction: Index of moderated mediation = .067 [0.003, 0.126], symptoms: −0.052 [−0.099, −0.004]) by control. Control led to less exhaustion and also buffered the negative effect of demands. For social support no moderated mediation was found, however, social support had a beneficial main effect on exhaustion. Discussion: The JDR model can be adapted to a student population and may give useful hints for planning study organisation. Both resources and demands are very important when explaining study-related outcomes particularly their interaction has to be taken into account. Hence, demanding study conditions might be attenuated by enhancing students’ opportunities to control their study life.
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