A new study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes has shown that men who experience job strain or an imbalance between their efforts at work and their rewards have an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.
The study followed over 6,400 workers, about 3,100 of whom were men, for 18 years between 2000 and 2018. The workers had a mean age of 45 years, and their job strain and effort-reward imbalances were measured using validated surveys. Events related to coronary heart disease were monitored throughout the study using medical databases. The objective of the study was to determine whether coronary heart disease is linked to job strain and effort-reward imbalance in white-collar workers.
The results showed that men who experienced either job strain or effort-reward imbalance had a 49% increased risk of developing heart disease compared to men who did not have either stressor. Men who reported having both stressors had twice the risk of developing heart disease. The impact of job stressors on heart disease in men was comparable to the impact of obesity. In women, the impact of job stressors on heart disease was inconclusive.
The authors of the study noted that “job strain” refers to a combination of high job demands, such as large workloads and tight deadlines, with low control over the work being performed. “Effort-reward imbalance” occurs when employees feel that the rewards they receive from their jobs, such as salary or job security, are not sufficient for the efforts they put in. The results of this study suggest that stress reduction in the workplace is very important for heart health and that workplace improvements could be beneficial for the health of communities.