According to a study of white-collar professionals, men who work stressful jobs that demand a lot of effort for little pay have a double the chance of acquiring heart disease, which has an effect on heart health equivalent to that of obesity.
It has been determined that a number of well-known risk factors connected to lifestyle are pertinent targets for preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD). This includes psychosocial elements like work stress and an unbalanced relationship between the effort needed for a job and the payoff. In this context, “reward” also includes recognition and job stability in addition to income.
Few studies have examined how these two factors interact to increase the risk of heart disease, despite the fact that they have both been studied separately in the past. A recent study that looked at the combined effects of job stress and effort-reward imbalance (ERI) discovered that men are disproportionately impacted.
According to Mathilde Lavigne-Robichaud, the study’s lead and corresponding author, “Considering the significant amount of time people spend at work, understanding the relationship between work stressors and cardiovascular health is crucial for public health and workforce well-being.” “Our study emphasises the urgent need to address stressful working environments proactively in order to create healthier work environments that benefit employees and employers,” the authors write.
3,118 men and 3,347 women, all Canadian white-collar workers, were included in the study and followed for a median of 18.7 years. Senior management, professionals, technicians, and office workers were among the occupations. The incidence of CVD and occupational stress were monitored throughout the course of the trial.
According to Lavigne-Robichaud, “job strain refers to work environments where employees deal with a combination of high job demands and limited control over their work.” Low control means the employee has little input in decision-making and how they carry out their duties, but high demands can include a hefty workload, strict deadlines, and multiple obligations.
The ERI ratio was calculated by adding the researchers’ measurements of work effort and reward. Employees who put a lot of effort into their work may feel that the incentives they obtain, such pay, recognition, or job stability, are insufficient or inadequate in comparison, according to Lavigne-Robichaud. It’s termed an effort-reward imbalance, for example, if you consistently go above and beyond yet feel that you don’t get the accolades or benefits you deserve.
They discovered that males who reported job stress or ERI had a 49% higher chance of developing heart disease than men who did not report similar stressors. Men who reported both job stress and ERI had a 103% higher chance of developing heart disease than men who did not. The effect of job stress and ERI together was similar to the effect of obesity on the risk of heart disease, according to the study. It’s interesting that they discovered conflicting evidence about the effects of work stress on women’s health.
As these stress factors are linked to other common health issues like depression, Lavigne-Robichaud said, “our results suggest that interventions aimed at reducing stressors from the work environment could be particularly effective for men and could also have positive implications for women.” “Further research into the complex interactions between various stressors and women’s heart health is necessary given the study’s inability to establish a direct link between psychosocial job stressors and coronary heart disease in women,” the authors write.
The fact that the study was restricted to Canadian white-collar workers was a drawback acknowledged by the researchers. Nevertheless, they assert that the findings might still be applicable to white-collar professionals in the US and other high-income nations with comparable organisational systems.
Journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes published the findings.