Researchers from the Jaume I University have proven the usefulness of DUWAS, a new scale for measuring addiction to work, a disorder that affects around 12% of all working people in Spain. The experts say that 8% of the working population in Spain devotes more than 12 hours per day to their job.
The results, published in the Spanish journal Psicothema, not only confirm the bifactorial structure of workaholism, in other words its two dimensions, but also relate the results with psychosocial wellbeing (perceived health and happiness), in order to highlight the negative features of addiction to work in Spain.
Data on the worldwide prevalence of addiction to work vary from one study to another. It is placed at around 20% in countries such as Japan, while in Spain the figures are between 11.3% and 12%, according to research carried out in 2004 by Sánchez Pardo, Navarro Botella and Valderrama Zurián, and Del Líbano's group in 2006, respectively.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says that 8% of the working population devotes more than 12 hours per day to their profession in order to escape from personal problems. According to the experts, spending more than 50 hours per week working could be a determining factor in addiction.
Addiction to work is characterised by extreme activity in and devotion to work (with people even working outside working hours, at weekends and on holidays), compulsion to work (inability to delegate), disproportionate involvement with work (people relating their self esteem to their work), and focusing on work to the detriment of their daily lives (poor interpersonal communication).
Some risk factors that can lead to such addiction include financial, family and social pressures; fear of losing one's job; competition in the labour market; the need to achieve a desired level of success; fear of overbearing, demanding or threatening bosses; high levels of personal work efficiency; and lack of personal affection, with the person trying to make up for this with their work.
In addition, workaholic people can also end up taking illegal substances to help them work harder, enabling them to increase their workplace performance and overcome tiredness and the need for sleep.