Association between psychosocial stress and hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Neurol Res. 2017 Jun;39(6):573-580. doi: 10.1080/01616412.2017.1317904. Epub 2017 Apr 17.


Aim: The etiology of hypertension is various and complex, involving both genetic and behavioral factors. The relationship between psychosocial stress and hypertension has been hypothesized. More and more people experience increased anxiety, depression, and chronic psychosocial stress brought on by globalization, cultural changes, socioeconomic changes, and stress at the work place. Although a plethora of studies have investigated the interaction between psychosocial stress and hypertension, this relationship is still contentious. The objective of this study is twofold. First, a review of recent advancements in our understanding of the relationship between psychosocial stress and hypertension. Second, a meta-analysis aiming to assess the relationship between chronic psychosocial stress and blood pressure.

Methods: We systematically searched and identified relevant studies from five databases, including PubMed, Cochrane Library, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), CQVIP, and the Wanfang Database until April 2016. Eleven studies encompassing 5696 participants were included in the final analysis.

Results: Data showed that psychosocial stress was associated with an increased risk of hypertension (OR = 2.40, 95% CI = 1.65-3.49), and hypertensive patients had a higher incidence of psychosocial stress compared to normotension patients (OR = 2.69, 95% CI = 2.32-3.11). Based on our meta-analysis, chronic psychosocial stress may be a risk factor for hypertension.

Conclusion: The few cohort and case-control studies on the association between psychosocial stress and hypertension employed variable definition of stressors and the responses, making the meta-analysis difficult. Although we found an association between chronic psychosocial stress and hypertension, more studies are needed to confirm this relationship.

Keywords: Psychological stress; anxiety; depression; hypertension; meta-analysis; occupational stress.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*