Edited by Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou, Cary L. Cooper, George P. Chrousos, Charles D. Spielberger and Michael William Eysenck
Chapter 28: Stress, Social Support and Blood Pressure: Worktime–Downtime Distinctions
Brian M. Hughes Stress, social support, and health: from ordinary life to the workplace It is widely appreciated that psychological stress exerts a negative impact on physical health. Traditionally, the pathways through which such impacts are transmitted have been categorized as either indirect (i.e., the impact exerted by stress-related behavior, such as smoking) or direct (i.e., the impact exerted by stress-related physiological arousal). Research evidence to support the claim that psychological stress contributes to ill health both indirectly and directly has been accumulating steadily over the history of behavioral epidemiology and health psychology, and the idea that psychosomatic stress mechanisms can underlie the development of disease is now very much part of mainstream medicine. Statistically, the contribution of stress to disease is striking. In one of the largest analyses of its kind, an international project known as the INTERHEART study – which involved over 11,000 myocardial infarction (MI) patients and 13,000 matched controls across 52 countries – high prevalence of psychological stress was associated with a doubling of MI risk even after controlling for smoking (Rosengren et al., 2004). The adverse eﬀect of stress on cardiological health was found to be present across genders, ethnic groups, and indeed continents. That the impact of stress on physical well-being is recognized to be acutely relevant to the consideration of occupational health is reﬂected in the identiﬁcation of occupational stress as a major workplace hazard in the World Health Organization’s Global Strategy on Occupational Health (WHO, 1994). In fact, some...
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