Although a relationship between a stressful work environment and cardiovascular disease has been hypothesized, a new study suggests work stress could also be linked to inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

A Swedish study defines psychosocial work stress as high psychological demands, low decision latitude or the combination of these stressors (job strain). The investigators used data from EIRA, a large population-based case-control study with incident cases of RA.

The study base comprised the population, aged 18 – 65 years, in middle and southern parts of Sweden from 1996 to 2003. In total, 1,221 cases and 1,454 controls participated.

Psychological job demands and job decision latitude were measured according to validated questions from earlier research.

Researchers discovered low decision latitude, that is, low authority to make decisions or low job skills was associated with an increased risk for RA. Interestingly, this same pattern has also been associated with the development of cardiovascular disease.

Furthermore, there was some evidence that those with high psychological job demands had a decreased risk of RA.

Source: Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics