OBJECTIVES: Previous studies on the association between psychosocial work factors and blood pressure mainly focused on specific occupations or populations and had limited sample sizes. We, therefore, investigated the associations between psychosocial work factors and blood pressure in a large general working population in the Netherlands.
METHODS: We included 63 800 employees from the Netherlands, aged 18-65 years, with blood pressure measurements and a reliable job code at baseline. Psychosocial work factors (job strain, effort-reward imbalance (ERI) and emotional demands) in the current job were estimated with three recently developed psychosocial job exposure matrices. To examine the associations, regression analyses adjusted for covariates (age, sex, body mass index, education, monthly income, pack-years, smoking, alcohol consumption and antihypertensive medication (not included for hypertension)) were performed.
RESULTS: Higher job strain was associated with higher systolic blood pressure (SBP) (B (regression coefficients) (95% CI) 2.14 (1.23 to 3.06)) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) (B (95% CI) 1.26 (0.65 to 1.86)) and with higher odds of hypertension (OR (95% CI) 1.43 (1.17 to 1.74)). Higher ERI was associated with higher DBP (B (95% CI) 4.37 (3.05 to 5.68)), but not with SBP or hypertension. Higher emotional demands were associated with lower SBP (B (95% CI) -0.90 (-1.14 to -0.66)) and lower odds of hypertension ((OR) (95% CI) 0.91 (0.87 to 0.96)).
CONCLUSIONS: In the general working population, employees in jobs with high job strain and ERI have higher blood pressure compared with employees with low job strain and ERI. Emotional demands at work are inversely associated with blood pressure.