Work-related stress and cognitive performance among middle-aged adults: The Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil)

Stress Health. 2020 Feb;36(1):19-30. doi: 10.1002/smi.2906. Epub 2019 Dec 2.


Assessing risk factors exposure, such as stress in the workplace during adulthood, may contribute to detecting early signs of cognitive impairment in order to implement effective actions to improve brain health and consequently to decrease cognitive disorders later in life. In this cross-sectional study, we aimed to investigate whether work-related stress is associated with low cognitive performance in middle-aged adults from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) and whether social support mediates this relationship. Work-related stress was evaluated in 9,969 workers using the Demand-Control-Support Questionnaire. Cognitive function was assessed using the verbal fluency, trail-making version B, and delayed recall word tests. Work-related stress was associated with lower performance on the delayed recall, verbal fluency, and executive function tests in middle-aged adults. Social support may mediate the association between work demands and cognitive performance. These findings support that work-related stress is associated with cognitive performance during adulthood.

Keywords: cognition; occupational health; social support; work stress.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brazil
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occupational Health*
  • Occupational Stress / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workload