Occupational Stress and Health among Factory Workers

This study extends prior research on occupational stress and health by examining the cross-sectional association of 12 measures of perceived stress to five indicators of self-reported symptoms of ill health and five medical conditions in a population of blue-collar workers. Net of a variety of confounding factors, including exposure to noxious physical-chemical agents, perceived stress is consistently positively related to self-reported angina, ulcers, and neurotic symptoms and to medical evidence of hypertension and other heart disease risk factors. Perceived stress is also positively associated with self-reported respiratory and dermatological symptoms but only among workers who report exposure to potentially noxious physical-chemical agents. That is, stress seems to exacerbate the deleterious effects of such exposure. The results suggest that occupational stress may affect a wide range of workers and health outcomes. Limitations of the study indicate a need for future longitudinal studies with more medical data on health status and fuller assessment of environmental and genetic factors that may interact with stress in determining health.