Developing a gender/sex-sensitive evidence base on relationship between psychosocial work environment and chronic disease

Reasons for the study

Male and female labour force participation rates in Canada have changed dramatically over the last three decades. The percentage of labour force participants who are female increased from 39 per cent to 48 per cent between 1980 and 2011. Despite this increase in female labour market participation, our understanding of how work, including work stress, affects health status is still male-centric. However, there might be important male and female differences in the assessment of work stress, the biological and behavioural reactions to work stress, and the relationship between work stress and risk of subsequent disease. The purpose of this project is to build an evidence base concerning male and female differences in the relationship between the psychosocial work environment and future risk of metabolic diseases.

Objectives of the study

  • Examine gender/sex differences in the association between dimensions of the psychosocial work environment and general work stress and general life stress
  • Examine gender/sex differences in the relationship between the psychosocial work environment and subsequent health behaviour and body mass index (BMI) trajectories over a 16-year period
  • Examine the relationship between the psychosocial work environment and cardiovascular disease in Ontario over a 12-year period

Anticipated results/impact

This project develops a cross-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional team of researchers for further work in exploring gender and the relationships between work environment and risk of disease.

Related research summaries

Prolonged standing on the job associated with higher risk of heart disease than prolonged sitting. Research Highlights: Institute for Work & Health, September 2017.

Related scientific publications

Smith PM, Huiting M, Glazier R, Gilbert-Ouimet M, Mustard C. The relationship between occupational standing and sitting and incident heart disease over a 12-year period in Ontario, Canada. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2018;187(1):27–33. doi:10.1093/aje/kwx298.
Bielecky A, Ibrahim S, Mustard C, Brisson C, Smith PM. An analysis of measurement invariance in work stress by sex: Are we comparing apples to apples?. JASNH. 2017;13(2):38-48.

Related interviews and articles

Standing too long at work carries twice the risk of heart disease as sitting too long. At Work: Institute for Work & Health; No. 90, Fall 2017.
Study on prolonged standing and heart disease: Setting the record straight. At Work: Institute for Work & Health; No. 90, Fall 2017.
Bad news: Now standing at work is killing you, too. GQ: Conde Nast (New York, NY). September 17, 2017. Available from: https://www.gq.com/story/standing-death-study
Too much standing is bad, study finds — it's time to move. CBC: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Toronto, ON). August 18, 2017. Available from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/standing-sitting-work-move-1.4252006

Project status

Ongoing

Research team

Peter Smith, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Cameron Mustard, Institute for Work & Health
Chantal Brisson, Unité de recherche en santé des populations
Rick Glazier, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences

Participating organizations

Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Funded by

Canadian Institutes of Health Research