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Soc Sci Med. 2007 Feb;64(4):830-41. Epub 2006 Nov 22.

Social support at work and the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke in women and men.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, Epidemiological Research Group, Lund University, 205 02 Malmö, Sweden. <>


It has been proposed that lack of social support in a work place characterized by high levels of stress, may increase the likelihood of future cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to analyze the prospective impact of social support at work in combination with self-reported work stress on incidence of myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke in a cohort of 4707 women (mean age: 54.2 years) and 3063 men (mean age: 55.5 years) in Malmö, Sweden. The results are based on self-reports of work-related stress and social support collected at baseline examinations between the years 1992 and 1996. Work-stress was operationalized according to the Karasek job strain model. Data on incidence of MI and stroke were obtained from national and regional registers. At the end of follow-up, December 31, 2001, 38 women had experienced an MI and 53 had had a stroke. Corresponding figures for men were 114 MIs and 81 strokes. The first finding was that social support at work was an independent predictor of an MI and stroke among women. The second finding was that there was no evidence to support the iso-strain model. The third finding was that low levels of social support at work together with a passive work situation indicated an increased risk of a future cardiovascular outcome (MI or stroke) during follow-up in the female group. In men, no association was found between any psychosocial work conditions and incidence of MI or stroke during the same follow-up period.

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