The relationship between psychological job stress and coronary heart disease (CHD) was studied in a population of 397 male professionals of an aerospace firm. Representatives from various occupational categories, including finance and accounting, new business projects, product assurance and a comparison group were studied. Data was collected from questionnaires including job information, work and family environment scales, coronary proneness traits, personality scales, job and life stress scores and psychological distress. Information was gathered on blood pressure, serum lipid concentrations, adrenergic items, cardiovascular disease (CVD) status and medical history. Medical and cardiovascular examinations were repeated at intervals of 2.5 months for half of the study population. The workers completed weekly workload assessments and recorded their appraisals of pressure and strain. Low level relationships between psychological variables of job stress and behavior and physiological data relating to CHD risk were found. Individual characteristics and the job environment and their interactions were involved in processes that resulted in CHD risk. Variables with a strong effect on cardiovascular disease (CVD) status did not have a strong effect on physiological variables. Blood pressure, urine catecholamines and lipid concentrations were the most active variables in their relationship to psychosocial factors. Total cholesterol was the least sensitive variable. The ratios of total cholesterol to high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides were the most sensitive variables. Data generated by this study replicated generally the results of other well controlled surveys of White male populations. Correlations of blood pressure with weight, pulse rate, serum glucose, cholesterol, uric acid, smoking and alcohol consumption rates were very close to those of other surveys. The authors conclude that CHD risk factors involve individual characteristics, the job environment and interactions. The most active physiological variables are blood pressure, urine catecholamines, and lipid concentrations.
NIOSH, Behavioral and Motivational Factors Branch, Cincinnati, Ohio, 28 pages, 71 references