Job strain, job insecurity, and incident cardiovascular disease in the Women's Health Study: results from a 10-year prospective study

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40512. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040512. Epub 2012 Jul 18.


Objectives: Research about work-related stressors and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has produced mixed findings. Moreover, a paucity of data exists regarding the long-term associations between job strain and job insecurity and CVD among women.

Methods: We used Cox proportional hazard models to examine the relationship between job strain, job insecurity, and incident CVD over 10 years of follow-up among 22,086 participants in the Women's Health Study (mean age 57±5 years).

Results: During 10 years of follow-up there were 170 myocardial infarctions (MI), 163 ischemic strokes, 440 coronary revascularizations, and 52 CVD deaths. In models adjusted for age, race, education, and income, women with high job strain (high demand, low control) were 38% more likely to experience a CVD event than their counterparts who reported low job strain (low demand, high control; Rate Ratio (RR) = 1.38, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 1.08-1.77), and women with active jobs (high demand, high control) were 38% more likely to experience a CVD event relative to women who reported low job strain (95% CI = 1.07-1.77). Outcome-specific analyses revealed that high job strain predicted non-fatal myocardial infarction (RR = 1.67, CI = 1.04-2.70), and coronary revascularization (RR = 1.41, CI = 1.05-1.90). No evidence of an association between job insecurity and long-term CVD risk was observed.

Conclusion: High strain and active jobs, but not job insecurity, were related to increased CVD risk among women. Both job strain and job insecurity were significantly related to CVD risk factors. With the increase of women in the workforce, these data emphasize the importance of addressing job strain in CVD prevention efforts among working women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*