We designed this study to clarify the role of work stress on long-term blood pressure control and in particular to investigate whether perceived work stress directly affected resting blood pressure levels or whether there were indirect effects mediated by coping mechanisms and lifestyle. Men (n=337) and women (n=317) working in a government tax office completed questionnaires for assessment of work-related stress, coping strategies, and lifestyle. Seven resting blood pressure measurements were recorded serially on each of two occasions a week apart. Men had higher blood pressures (119.6/68.6 versus 110.9/65.6 mm Hg) than women; they used more ''maladaptive'' coping strategies, drank more alcohol, and ate less healthily but exercised more than women. There were no direct associations between measures of work stress and blood pressure. In univariate and regression analyses, both body mass index and lifestyle factors in the form of alcohol consumption, exercise, and diet were related to blood pressure in men and women. Various ''adaptive'' or ''maladaptive'' coping mechanisms were identified and independently related to both job stress and blood pressure levels. Women were more likely to use ''healthier'' or adaptive coping mechanisms than men. Thus, work stress per se had no direct effect on blood pressure, but the ways that individuals reported coping with stress were significantly related to blood pressure, with blood pressure elevation effects appearing to be mediated largely by dietary and drinking habits and physical inactivity. The results point to the need to target individual coping strategies and lifestyle as much as the working environment in workplace cardiovascular health promotion programs.
|Publication status||Published - 1997|