A prospective study of work stressors and the common cold

Occup Med (Lond). 2011 Jan;61(1):53-6. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqq141. Epub 2010 Sep 10.


Background: Psychological stress is a risk factor for infectious diseases. Although psychological stress at work is considered an important problem for many workers, there is little evidence for the effect of work-related stress on infectious diseases.

Aims: To investigate whether work-related stress affected the occurrence of the common cold in South Korean workers in small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies.

Methods: We conducted a prospective study, involving 1241 workers. At the outset, we collected information regarding sociodemographic and work characteristics. At follow-up after 6 months, we asked subjects whether they had experienced common cold symptoms during the preceding 4 months.

Results: Male subjects experiencing stress at the outset were more likely to report having experienced the common cold at follow-up (odds ratios: high job demand group 1.74; 95% CI: 1.28-2.36; insufficient job control 1.42; 95% CI: 1.05-1.93; inadequate social support 1.40; 95% CI: 1.03-1.91). For females, no significant association between work stress and occurrence of the common cold was detected.

Conclusions: Males experiencing work stress in job demand, job control and social support reported an increased occurrence of the common cold at follow-up but this association was not seen in females.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Common Cold / epidemiology*
  • Common Cold / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Korea / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*