Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


More work stress - more biological wear and tear

23 July 2018

Major study provides a deeper understanding of how stressful situations contribute to health problems later on.

Many governments are looking for ways to extend our working lives, but if life at work is stressful, then that can lead to poor health and an early rather than later retirement. In our latest WorkLife blog, Tarani Chandola discusses a major new study that provides a deeper understanding of how stressful situations may contribute to health problems, particularly at the end of working life.

The research found the more occasions of work-stress a participant reported, the greater their 'Allostatic Load' index - that is, the greater the amount of biological wear and tear. s It also showed that employees who had experienced stress towards the end of their working lives, had higher levels of health risk when compared to those who had experienced it earlier in their careers.  

The researchers say their findings suggest an association between repeated reports of stress at work and biological stress mechanisms, which in turn could lead to stress-related disorders such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes or depression. 

The English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) provided the data for the study, which has followed a representative sample of almost 10,000 over-50s since 2002.