Unstable Workplace Might Increase Risk

The 18-year study examined the possible link between job control factors and heart attacks - acute myocardial infarction - among 7,663 private sector employees. “The risk of MI was about 1.8 times higher in a disorganised setting than in an organised setting,” said Ari Vaananen, lead study author. “Clear organisation of work tasks matters.”

The new study finds that characteristics of a job, such as an employee’s lack of control, job awareness, unexpected changes, job strain and stress, could lead to poor cardiac health. Unfortunately, many people work in environments where unpredictable job components are the norm.

The researchers sent questionnaires to 12,173 employees in the multinational forest industry who had worked for their company for at least 24 months and who were initially free of heart disease. In total, 9,292 employees, primarily blue-collar workers, responded. “We looked at the measure of predictability, how an employee views the clarity of work goals and work roles, their ability to foresee work problems and how significant work disturbances interrupt the work process and outcome.” Vaananen said.

The researchers also looked at demographics, psychological distress, medical conditions and lifestyle risk factors. During the 17-year follow-up period, 56 employees died of acute myocardial infarction and 316 had nonfatal events.

Joan Gillman is the director of special industry programmes at the School of Business at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Educating the work force is important to improved predictability, Gillman said. “The more that employees know what is expected of them and are given the proper training, the less stressful it is for them.”

What can employees do to change their predisposition to acute myocardial infarctions? Vaananen said, “Employees may want to acquire new skills through education. They also may want to learn how the entire system works in the organisation. Good knowledge of the organisation and of their own clear roles at work may decrease negative emotions and chronic stress, and lower their risk for acute myocardial infarction.”

COMPAMED.de; Source: Health Behavior News Service