Adding Fuel to the Fire: The Exacerbating Effects of Calling Intensity on the Relationship Between Emotionally Disturbing Work and Employee Health

Stephanie A. Andel, Shani Pindek, Paul E. Spector, Remle P. Crowe, Rebecca E. Cash, Ashish Panchal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The burgeoning occupational callings literature has shown that feeling called to a job is associated with an array of positive job-, career-, and health-related outcomes. However, recent studies have begun to indicate that there may also be a “negative side” of callings. The present study builds on this emerging perspective to examine whether feeling called to a job makes helping professionals more vulnerable to the negative effects of acute stressors. Specifically, we integrated identity, cognitive rumination, and psychological detachment theories to explain how feeling called to one’s job (i.e., the strength of one’s calling intensity) might bolster the negative, indirect relationship between emotionally disturbing work and strain (i.e., mental exhaustion, sleep quality, and alcohol consumption) through negative work rumination. Results from a 10-week diary study with a national U.S. sample of 211 paramedics revealed that on weeks that paramedics experienced more emotionally disturbing work, they engaged in greater levels of negative work rumination, which in turn was associated with greater mental exhaustion and worse sleep quality, but not greater alcohol consumption. In addition, calling intensity moderated the indirect effect of emotionally disturbing work on both mental exhaustion and sleep quality, such that these indirect effects were stronger among those with higher (vs. lower) levels of calling intensity. These results provide evidence that employees who feel most called to their jobs may be particularly vulnerable to short-term negative outcomes associated with emotionally disturbing work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-502
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Occupational Health Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by the Sunshine Education and Research Center at the University of South Florida. The center is supported by Training Grant T42-OH008438 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. American Psychological Association


  • Calling
  • Emergency medical services
  • Employee health
  • Strain
  • Work rumination
  • Occupational Health
  • Humans
  • Occupations
  • Emotions
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Rumination, Cognitive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology


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