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Currently submitted to: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Date Submitted: Oct 2, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Oct 2, 2019 - Nov 27, 2019
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Do problematic internet use and perceived stress mediate health behaviors and work-life balance? - An online study with internet-users in Germany and China

  • Lingling Gao; 
  • Yiqun Gan; 
  • Amanda Whittal; 
  • Song Yan; 
  • Sonia Lippke; 



Work-life balance is associated with health behaviors. In the face of digitalization, understanding this link requires investigating the roles of problematic internet use and perceived stress, which are so far unknown.


The aim of this study was to explore whether problematic internet use and perceived stress mediate health behaviors and work-life balance in two groups of internet-users from different environments (residents in Germany or China), therefore, also to see if residence was a moderator.


An online questionnaire (N=877) was launched with residents from Germany (n=374) and China (n=503) in three language versions (German, English and Chinese). Moderated mediation analyses were run with health behaviors as the independent variable, work-life balance as the dependent variable, problematic internet use and perceived stress as the mediator variables, and residence as potential moderator.


Results showed that health behaviors seem to be directly related to work-life balance in both groups. In residents of Germany, a partial mediation was revealed (β = .13, P = .01), while in residents of China, a full mediation was revealed (β = .02, P =.61). The mediation role of perceived stress was prominent compared to problematic internet use in all of the serial models, and the parallel model. Residence moderated the relationship between health behaviors and work-life balance. On a mean level, individuals in Germany performed more health behaviors than individuals in China, however, have higher perceived stress. The interrelation between health behaviors and work-life balance was stronger in Germany (β = .19, P < .001), compared in China (β = .11, P =.01).


These findings are in line with the compensatory carry-over action model. To promote work-life balance, individuals should perform health behaviors to help overcome problematic internet use and perceived stress.


Please cite as:

Gao L, Gan Y, Whittal A, Yan S, Lippke S

Do problematic internet use and perceived stress mediate health behaviors and work-life balance? - An online study with internet-users in Germany and China

JMIR Preprints. 02/10/2019:16468

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.16468


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