This study investigated the association between work, work intensity, and quality of life (QOL) among adolescents in Washington State.
Data from the 2010 Washington Healthy Youth Survey of public school students in 8, 10, and 12th grades were analyzed. Students were categorized as working or not working. Work intensity was classified by self-reported number of hours worked per week. Respondent QOL was measured using the Youth Quality of Life Instrument-Healthy Youth Survey Version (YQOL-HYS). Linear regression models evaluated the association between employment variables and scores on the YQOL-HYS.
In total, 27, 26, and 47 % of students in grades 8, 10, and 12 reported currently working, respectively. For 8th and 10th graders, working was significantly associated with lower QOL scores compared to non-working students. Across all grades, increased work intensity was associated with significantly lower QOL. Participation in after-school activities demonstrated a protective effect.
While work is often a positive experience for adolescents, among younger teens and those who work many hours, employment during the school year may have a deleterious impact on QOL. Further research is necessary to better understand whether employment, particularly in early adolescence, may have negative ramifications on QOL among young workers.