Methodological issues are pointed to as the main sources of inconsistencies in studies about the association between job strain and blood pressure (BP)/hypertension. Our aim was to analyze the relationship between job strain and the whole BP distribution, as well as potential differences by gender, age, and use of antihypertensives. Additionally, we addressed issues relating to the operationalization of the exposure and outcome variables that influence the study of their inter-relations. We evaluated the baseline date of 12,038 participants enrolled in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) (2008-2010), a multicenter cohort study of 35-74-year-old civil servants. Job strain was assessed by the Demand-Control-Support Questionnaire. The distribution of casual BP by categories of job strain was compared by a combination of exploratory techniques. Participants were classified into three subgroups (normotensives, medicated hypertensives, and unmedicated hypertensives), and analyses were stratified by gender and age. The relationship between job strain and casual BP varied along the whole outcome distribution. Hypertensive participants had greater differences in casual BP by job strain category, especially medicated hypertensives. Differences in casual BP were also greater for systolic than for diastolic BP and for older participants. No differences were encountered by gender. The exclusion of participants susceptible to misclassification for the exposure and outcome variables increased the differences observed between the categories of low and high job strain. In conclusion, the relationship between job strain and casual BP varied along the whole outcome distribution and by use of antihypertensive drugs, age, and BP parameter evaluated. Misclassification for exposure and outcome variables should be considered in analyses of this topic.
Keywords: demand-control model; hypertension; job stress; method; psychosocial factor.