Although the prevalence of work-related stress has increased, knowledge on the contributions of that stress to long-term adverse health effects is still lacking. Stress biomarkers can reveal early signs of negative health effects, but no previous studies have measured both acute stress reactions and long-term exposure to job strain using both salivary cortisol and α-amylase (AA). The present study examines the association between job strain and these biomarkers among shift-working female health care professionals in the laboratory and the field. The 95 participants were recruited from hospital wards categorized in either the top (high job strain [HJS] group, n = 42) or the bottom quartile of job strain (low job strain [LJS] group, n = 53), as rated by survey responses. Participants' self-perceived job strain was at least as high or low as the ward's average estimation. Saliva samples were collected during the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), preselected morning and night shifts, and a day off. There was a larger increase in the cortisol concentration of participants in the HJS than in the LJS group (2.27- vs. 1.48-fold, respectively, nonsignificant) during the TSST. Participants in the HJS group also had higher salivary AA levels 30 min after awakening on the morning-shift day than those in the LJS group (p = .02), whereas the salivary cortisol awakening response on the day off was higher in the LJS group (p = .05, education as a covariate). The remaining stress-biomarker results did not differ significantly between groups. These data suggest that HJS in shift-working health care professionals is weakly associated with changes in stress biomarkers.
Keywords: night-shift work; nursing; stress biomarkers; work-related stress.
© The Author(s) 2015.