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OBJECTIVES—To explore the association between the prevalence of hypertension in a Japanese working population and job strain (a combination of low control over work and high psychological demands), and to estimate this association in different sociodemographic strata.
METHODS—From a multicentre community based cohort study of Japanese people, sex specific cross sectional analyses were performed on 3187 men and 3400 women under 65 years of age, all of whom were actively engaged in various occupations throughout Japan. The baseline period was 1992-4. The association between job characteristics—measured with a Japanese version of the Karasek demand-control questionnaire—and the prevalence of hypertension defined by blood pressure and from clinical diagnoses were examined. Adjustments were made for possible confounders. The analyses were repeated for stratified categories of occupational class, educational attainment, and age group.
RESULTS—In men, the level of job strain (the ratio of psychological job demands to job control) correlated with the prevalence of hypertension. In a multiple logistic regression model, job strain was significantly related to hypertension (odds ratio 1.18; 95% confidence interval 1.05 to 1.32), after adjustment for age, employment (white collar v blue collar), marital status, family history of hypertension, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity, and body mass index. The stratified analyses showed significant excess risks in the subordinate groups compared with managers, blue collar workers, less educated workers, and the older age groups. This association was not significant in women. Multiple linear regression analyses, with systolic and diastolic blood pressures as dependent variables, did not show any significant association.
CONCLUSIONS—The findings provided limited proof that job strain is related to hypertension in Japanese working men. Older men in a lower social class may be more vulnerable to the hypertensive effects of job strain.
Keywords: hypertension; stress; psychological; work