Thursday, 7 February 2008

Whitehall Revisited

More on the health of Whitehall Civil Servants (article, BBC report):
This study adds to the evidence that the work stress–CHD association is causal in nature. We demonstrate, within a population of office staff largely unexposed to physical occupational hazards, a prospective dose–response relation between psychosocial stress at work and CHD over 12 years of follow-up. We confirm, during the same exposure period, the plausibility of the proposed pathways involving behavioural mechanisms, neuroendocrine and autonomic activation, and development of risk factor clustering, represented by the metabolic syndrome. Further, those who are older (and are more likely to be retired and less exposed to work stress) are less susceptible to the work psychosocial effect, presenting a coherent pattern in our findings. This study demonstrates that stress at work can lead to CHD through direct activation of neuroendocrine stress pathways and indirectly through health behaviours.
This is part of the Whitehall II study, which I've mentioned before. Long-term, large-scale, prospective studies of this kind are, of course, very welcome. But naturally we'd like to see these balanced by lifelong individual studies, so that we can get beyond the non-specificity of the stress construct.


Am Ang Zhang said...

It may be interesting to study those who never took a day off in Whitehall - Whitehall Well Study, it could be called.

The Cockroach Catcher

Am Ang Zhang said...

I have just posted my further thoughts in The Cockroach Catcher Blog under the heading: Flight to Health - Why Do People Get Better?

david said...

Those who don't take a day off might include rather a wide range of people, from those who enjoy their job and are healthy, and those who go every day despite loathing their work out of a sense of duty.

You speak on your blog of rapid flights to psychiatric health, and the possibility of a positive chemical change. It seems to me quite possible that improvement needs no psychological explanations. There's plenty of research on the effects of immune activity in the body on the brain. The lessening of the activity could bring about changes of psychological state.