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.