SUNY Downstate School of Public Health associate professor Dr. Paul Landsbergis and colleagues recently published the first analysis of data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) which examined associations between working conditions and risk of hypertension.
The analysis found that higher job decision latitude (job control) was associated with a lower prevalence of hypertension, prevalence ratio = 0.78 (95 percent confidence interval 0.66 to 0.91) for the top versus bottom quartile of job decision latitude, after adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, foreign-born, language spoken at home, menopause, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, body mass index, current smoker, physical activity, diabetes, alcoholic drinks/week, hours worked/week, education, and income.
Associations, however, differed by occupation: decision latitude was associated with a higher prevalence of hypertension in healthcare support occupations (interaction p = 0.02). Occupation also modified associations of sex with hypertension: a higher prevalence of hypertension in women (vs. men) was observed in health care support and in blue-collar occupations (interaction p = 0.03).
Job characteristics such as job decision latitude are alterable through policy or workplace interventions. The current analysis suggests that increasing job decision latitude should be considered in the primary prevention of hypertension.
MESA is a medical research study involving more than 6,000 men and women from six communities in the United States, sponsored by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (https://www.mesa-nhlbi.org/). Dr. Landsbergis was part of a team of researchers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, CDC, to investigate associations between working conditions and cardiovascular outcomes in MESA data.
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