A review of the effect of the psychosocial working environment on physiological changes in blood and urine

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2009 Aug;105(2):73-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2009.00444.x. Epub 2009 Jun 26.


The aim of the present survey was to provide a literary review of current knowledge of the possible association between the psychosocial working environment and relevant physiological parameters measured in blood and urine. Literature databases (PubMed, Toxline, Biosis and Embase) were screened using the key words job, work-related and stress in combination with selected physiological parameters. In total, 51 work place studies investigated the associations between the psychosocial working environment and physiological changes, of which 20 were longitudinal studies and 12 population-based studies. The studied exposures in work place/population-based studies included: job demands (26/8 studies), job control (24/10 studies), social support and/or leadership behaviour (12/3 studies), effort-reward imbalance (three/one studies), occupational changes (four studies), shift work (eight studies), traumatic events (one study) and other (five studies). The physiological responses were catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline) (14 studies), cortisol (28 studies), cholesterol (23 studies), glycated haemoglobinA(1c) (six studies), testosterone (nine studies), oestrogens (three studies), dehydroepiandrosterone (six studies), prolactin (14 studies), melatonin (one study), thyroxin (one study), immunoglobulin (Ig) A (five studies), IgG (four studies), IgM (one study) and fibrinogen (eight studies). In general, fibrinogen and catabolic indicators, defined as energy releasing, were increased, whereas the anabolic indicators defined as constructive building up energy resources were decreased when the psychosocial working environment was perceived as poor. In conclusion, in this review the association between an adverse psychosocial working environment and HbA(1c), testosterone and fibrinogen in serum was found to be a robust and potential candidate for a physiological effect of the psychosocial working environment. Further, urinary catecholamines appear to reflect the effects of shift work and monotonous work.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catecholamines / urine*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Female
  • Fibrinogen / analysis*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hydrocortisone / urine
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Testosterone / blood*
  • Workplace / psychology*


  • Catecholamines
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • hemoglobin A1c protein, human
  • Testosterone
  • Fibrinogen
  • Cholesterol
  • Hydrocortisone