An exploration of the associations between work and life stress, and indicators of cardiovascular risk among female shift work and non-shift work hospital employees.
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Objective: To compare psychological work and life stress indicators among female hospital employees in both shift work (SW) and non-shift work (NSW) positions, and determine associations with demographic and vocational factors, and indicators of cardiovascular risk (CVR). Methods: Female employees from one Southeastern Ontario acute care hospital (n=212) provided fasting blood samples, demographic and work related data, and completed a physical assessment and questionnaires. Work stress was measured with the Job Content Questionnaire and Effort-Reward Balance Index (ERI). Life stress was assessed with the Derogatis Stress Profile. Metabolic Syndrome (MS) was determined based on Interim Societies Joint Guidelines. Results: SW in comparison to NSW employees reported higher mean scores in: global ERI (.70 (SD .4) vs. .58 (SD.29) p<.05), psychological job demands (21.2 (SD 4.8) vs. 19.2 (5.7) p<.01), physical job demands (13.8 (SD 2.6) vs. 10.2 (SD 3.8), skill discretion (36.5 (SD 4.4) vs. 34.7 (SD 5.4) p<.01), lower decision authority (31.6 (SD 5.8) vs. 33.5 (SD 6.5) p<.05), and lower total life stress scores (39.2 (SD 7.3) vs. 42.1 (SD 9.4) p<.05). There were no significant differences between SW and NSW group for MS or CVR factors. MS was present among 17% of all employees, 18.5% of SW, and 15.5% of NSW. In logistic regression analysis MS occurrence was associated with chronic SW exposure of 6 or more years (AOR 5.41 (95% CI, 1.84 – 15.87), decisional authority (AOR 1.09 (95% CI, 1.00 – 1.18), skill discretion (AOR 1.13 (95% CI, 1.01 – 1.26), and depression (AOR 1.26 (95% CI 1.08 – 1.46). Conclusions: Women working in SW positions experience more psychological and physical work stress, and effort-reward imbalance. The interplay between effort and reward aspects of the work environment may significantly contribute to psychological work stress and persist with increasing age among female hospital employees regardless of SW status. Among female hospital employees SW status and psychological stress measures do not appear to have an immediate effect upon CVR, as measured by the MS, but may contribute to its development with prolonged exposure.