Role expectations and rumors of organizational change as potential risk factors for employee mental health - A prospective study of role ambiguity, role conflict, rumoer of organizational change and mental distress
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- Institutt for psykologi 
The purpose of this study was to examine whether role expectations at baseline predicted self estimated employee mental distress at follow-up, and whether rumors of organizational change mediated this potential relationship. Two types of role expectations were investigated; role ambiguity and role conflict. A total of 11689 Norwegian employees participated at baseline, and 4872 at follow-up, with an interval of two years between the measurements. Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypotheses of the study. The results suggest that role expectations have a short-term impact upon mental distress and rumors of organizational change, while rumors of organizational change were shown to predict mental distress cross-sectionally. Rumors of organizational change were found to partially mediate the relationship between role expectations and mental distress cross-sectionally. Convincing prospective effects of both role expectations on mental distress, and role conflict on rumors of organizational change were found, indicating that role expectations have a long-term influence on mental distress, and role conflict on change rumors when measured over a time period of two years. This knowledge provides a better basis for practical efforts to improve occupational health. Additionally, organizations can use this information to improve their work environment and to focus targeted interventions or changes. Further research is recommended to replicate this study, with the use of more measurements and alternative time intervals, and include individuals’ cognitive appraisal as a moderator, as it may lead to different findings.