Work Reward & Cardiac Risk
Not realizing appropriate rewards for work may play
role in cardiovascular disease risk.
Rewards can be measured as factors beyond the monetary.
The American Psychological Association
WASHINGTON -- Work gives people opportunities to receive a
variety of types of awards. Some are internalized as job
satisfaction, others are received as part of an organized exchange
process to which society at large contributes in terms of societal
rewards, i.e., money, esteem, and status. There is, or should be,
reciprocity between the effort expended to accomplish work and the
gains realized. It has long been recognized, however, that such
reciprocity often does not exist and numerous studies have shown
that this lack of reciprocity can result in significant
psychological stress that may be expressed in a variety of somatic
ways. Now, in an exhaustive review discussing the links between
psychosocial occupational stress and health, which appears in the
January issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA)
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Johannes Siegrist,
Ph.D., concludes that high-cost/low gain also must be considered a
risk for cardiovascular health.
In his review, Siegrist measures high cost by extrinsic
forces, such as the demands of the job, and intrinsic sources such
as the motivations of the worker in a demanding situation. He
measures low-gain conditions by salary, the worker_s perceived
esteem of colleagues and supervisors (as well as availability of
help from those sources), and degree of status control the worker
perceives as having relative to the work, i.e., control over the
type of work done, whether or not relocation was required,
prospects for promotion.
The review addresses three relevant questions concerning the
links between psychosocial occupational stress and health:
- 1) how to identify those components within the global psychosocial
occupational environment that are of critical importance to health;
- 2) how chronically stressful experience is maintained in
individuals who are exposed to the psychosocial stressors
identified in theoretical models and;
- 3) the relationship between adverse health effects of chronically stressful experience in terms
of high effort and low reward.
Although Dr. Siegrist concludes that high cost/low gain
conditions at work must be considered a risk constellation for
cardiovascular health, he defines some of the numerous questions
that still remain and should be addressed in future research.
Adverse Health Effects of High-Effort/Low-Reward Conditions
by Johannes Siegrist, Ph.D.
University of Dusseldorf, Germany.
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology,
Vol. 1 No. 1 pp 27-41.
(Full text available from the APA Public Affairs Office.)
Date: January 29, 1996
Contact: Doug Fizel
Public Affairs Office
The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington,
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