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Biol Psychol. 2011 Dec;88(2-3):270-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2011.08.012. Epub 2011 Sep 1.

Effort-reward imbalance, overcommitment, and cellular immune measures among white-collar employees.

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Division of Applied Research and Technology, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH 45226, USA.


We investigated whether chronic job stress, i.e., effort-reward imbalance (ERI) and overcommitment is associated with cellular immunity among 190 male and 157 female white-collar daytime employees (mean age 38; range 22-69 years). Participants provided a blood sample for the measurement of circulating immune (natural killer (NK), B, and T) cell counts and NK cell cytotoxicity (NKCC) and completed a questionnaire survey during April to June 2002. Stepwise multiple linear regression analyses revealed that NK cells were associated with effort (β=-.230; p=.013), reward (β=.169; p=.047), and ERI (β=-.182; p=.047) scores but not with overcommitment in men; reward score was positively associated with NKCC (β=.167; p=.049) and inversely associated with B cells (β=-.181; p=.030). No significant associations were found in women. Although the picture remains less clear in women, our findings suggest a potential immunological pathway linking adverse working conditions and stress-related disorders in men.

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