Study Reveals Work Stress Damages Health Just as Much as Secondhand Smoke Exposure

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Marji_080915_2According to new research published in the journal Behavioral Science & Policy Association, work stress damages our health just as much as exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke.

The study, conducted by researchers from Harvard Business School in Boston, MA, analyzed 228 studies that looked at the effects of work stressors (e.g., job security, family-work conflict, long work hours, and job demands) on four health outcomes: mortality, the presence of a diagnosed medical condition, self-reported poor mental health, and self-reported poor physical health.

Researchers discovered that workers who have high job demands are 50% more likely to develop a medical condition than those without this stressor. Job security was associated with a 50% higher risk of poor physical and mental health, and long work hours were linked to a 20% higher mortality risk.

The team writes, “The results of our meta-analysis shows that workplace stressors generally increased the odds of poor health outcomes to approximately the same extent as exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Study author Joel Goh suggests that policymakers need to address workplace practices that continue to contribute to job-related stress.

The team notes that “possible job redesigns could involve limiting working hours, reducing shift work and unpredictable working hours, and encouraging flexible work arrangements that help employees to achieve a better balance between their work life and their family life.”

According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) latest “Stress in America” survey, money is the main cause of stress in the U.S., with work being a close second.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Goh, J., et al., “Workplace stressors & health outcomes: health policy for the workplace,” Behavioral Science & Policy Association, published online September 2015;
Whiteman, H. “Work stress ‘damages health as much as secondhand smoke exposure’,” Medical News Today web site, September 7, 2015;