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
(202) 336-5700



The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 142,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 49 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 58 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

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