Send to

Choose Destination
J Psychosom Res. 2017 Mar;94:56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.01.001. Epub 2017 Jan 6.

Chronic exposure to adverse psychosocial work factors and high psychological distress among white-collar workers: A 5-year prospective study.

Author information

Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec- Université Laval, Quebec, Canada. Electronic address:
Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec- Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.
Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec, Canada.



Prospective studies which evaluated whether the effects of chronic exposure to psychosocial work factors on mental health persisted over time are scarce. For the first time, this study evaluated: 1) the effect of chronic exposure to effort-reward imbalance over 5years on the prevalence of high psychological distress among men and women, and 2) the persistence of this effect over time.


Overall, 1747 white-collar workers from three public organizations participated in a prospective study. Psychological distress and effort-reward imbalance were measured using validated questionnaires at baseline, and at 3- and 5-year follow-ups. Prevalence ratios (PRs) of high psychological distress were estimated using log-binomial regression according to baseline and repeated exposure.


Compared to unexposed workers, those with repeated exposure to effort-reward imbalance had a higher prevalence of high psychological distress. Workers exposed only at some time-points also had a higher prevalence. The deleterious effect of repeated exposure observed at the 3-year follow-up persisted at the 5-year follow-up among women (PR=2.48 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.97-3.11) and men (PR=1.91 95% CI 1.20-3.04). These effects were greater than those found using a single baseline measurement.


The current study supported a deleterious effect of repeated exposure to effort-reward imbalance on psychological distress, and a lack of adaptation to these effects over time among men and women. Since psychological distress may later lead to severe mental problems, current results highlight the need to consider exposure to these adverse work factors in primary and secondary preventions aimed at reducing mental health problems at work.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center