Stress at the place of work and cognitive functions among women performing intellectual work during peri- and post-menopausal period

Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2017 Oct 6;30(6):943-961. doi: 10.13075/ijomeh.1896.01119. Epub 2017 Mar 27.


Objectives: The analysis of the relationship between stress at work and results of cognitive functions amongst women, at peri- and post-menopausal age, performing intellectual work.

Material and methods: The study group included women, aged 45-66 years old, employed as intellectual workers. Research instruments were: the Montreal Cognitive Assessment; computer tests of the CNS Vital Signs; the Subjective Work Characteristics Questionnaire, and a questionnaire designed by the author. The results were statistically analyzed.

Results: Nearly a half of respondents experienced high stress at the place of work; 1/3 - on the average level, on a low level - every fifth. The largest number of respondents experienced stress caused by social contacts. Among a half of the women, stress was caused by the lack of awards at work, followed by the lack of support. Slightly fewer of them experienced stress caused by the feeling of psychological load related to the complexity of work or the feeling of uncertainty caused by the organization of work. Every third woman experienced stress due to the sense of responsibility or the lack of control. The smallest number experienced stress caused by physical arduousness, the sense of threat and unpleasant working conditions. The examined women obtained the best results with respect to simple attention, the worst results - with respect to the reaction time. The results concerning the remaining 9 cognitive functions were ranked in the middle of the aforementioned results. The intensity of stress at work and factors which caused this stress, negatively correlated with simple attention of women in the early peri-menopausal period, while positively correlating with the psychomotor and processing speed of women in the late peri-menopausal period. Among the post-menopausal women, negative correlations were observed between the majority of cognitive functions and the intensity of stress at work, and the majority of factors which caused this stress.

Conclusions: Cognitive functions of the examined women remained within the range of average evaluations, and were correlated with stress-inducing factors at the place of work. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2017;30(6):943-961.

Keywords: CNS vital signs; cognitive function; intellectual work; menopause; stress at work; woman health.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Stress / psychology*
  • Perimenopause*
  • Poland
  • Postmenopause*