Psychosocial stress at work and cardiovascular diseases: an overview of systematic reviews

Purpose: Based on information reported in systematic reviews (SRevs), this study aimed to find out whether psychosocial stress at work leads to cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality.

Methods: A systematic search in PubMed and EMBASE (until 2014) used a string based on PICOS components. A manual search was followed. Applying the predefined criteria, two reviewers independently screened the titles, abstracts, selected full texts, and validated their quality. Discrepancies were resolved by discussion between reviewers. Studies of low quality were excluded. Contents of enrolled SRevs were extracted by one reviewer; a second reviewer evaluated their accurateness.

Results: The search resulted in 462 records. Six SRevs based on 81 studies (total population: ~1,468,670) fulfilled the inclusion criteria, four of "very good" (++) and two of “good” (+) quality. Excluded records were filed, and reasons for exclusion were documented in all cases. Different stress models were used to measure the work-related stress; the "demand-control model" was most commonly used. The two enrolled meta-analysis confirmed a modest (1.32, 95 % CI 1.09-1.59; Virtanen et al. 2013) to moderate evidence (1.45, 95 % CI 1.15-1.84; Kivimäki et al. 2006), predominantly among men, for the association between psychosocial stress at work and CV outcomes. Due to lacking information, it was not possible to give evidence on the dose-response relationship.

Conclusions: Same to a SRev, an overview of SRev is used to summarize literature and identify areas in which research is needed. This overview can be used to: (a) Disseminate an up-to-date information on work-related stress as a risk factors for CV morbidity and mortality to government, health care providers, workers, and other stakeholders; (b) Encourage governments to better regulate the working conditions and consider work-related psychosocial stress as a hazardous factor that leads to CV diseases or mortality; and (c) Analyze gaps in the literature and provide a summary of research needs.

This article is published in the Journal "International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health".

Bibliographic information

Title:  Psychosocial stress at work and cardiovascular diseases: an overview of systematic reviews. 

Written by:  A. Fishta, E.-M. Backé

in: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Volume 88, Issue 8, 2015.  pages: 997-1014, DOI: 10.1007/s00420-015-1019-0

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