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Occup Med (Lond). 2011 Jan;61(1):53-6. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqq141. Epub 2010 Sep 10.

A prospective study of work stressors and the common cold.

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  • 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Inha University Hospital, Inha University, 3 Shinheung-dong, Jung-gu, Incheon 400-700, Republic of Korea.



Psychological stress is a risk factor for infectious diseases. Although psychological stress at work is considered an important problem for many workers, there is little evidence for the effect of work-related stress on infectious diseases.


To investigate whether work-related stress affected the occurrence of the common cold in South Korean workers in small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies.


We conducted a prospective study, involving 1241 workers. At the outset, we collected information regarding sociodemographic and work characteristics. At follow-up after 6 months, we asked subjects whether they had experienced common cold symptoms during the preceding 4 months.


Male subjects experiencing stress at the outset were more likely to report having experienced the common cold at follow-up (odds ratios: high job demand group 1.74; 95% CI: 1.28-2.36; insufficient job control 1.42; 95% CI: 1.05-1.93; inadequate social support 1.40; 95% CI: 1.03-1.91). For females, no significant association between work stress and occurrence of the common cold was detected.


Males experiencing work stress in job demand, job control and social support reported an increased occurrence of the common cold at follow-up but this association was not seen in females.

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