Exposing women to workplace stress factors as a risk factor for developing arterial hypertension.
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National Observatory for Health and Work Safety of Agricultural Workers, Institute of Rural Health, Jaczewskiego 2, 20-090 Lublin, Poland. ibojar@poczta.onet.pl.
Ann Agric Environ Med 2011;18(1):175–182
The purpose of this study is the evaluation of women?s exposure to stress-inducing factors at work, definition of a scale of the problem, as well as assessment of the impact of professional work on the value of arterial pressure. The research was conducted on four professional groups of women: working in agriculture, working as clerks, seamstresses, as well as those working as medical representative in the period from August- September 2008 in the Lublin region. A total number of 416 women was examined, ages ranging from 30-40, who had not been previously treated due to arterial hypertension. The women under examination had their arterial blood pressure measured twice on a working day at 08:00 and at 14:00. The values of measurements were averaged. The research tool was also the standardised Questionnaire for Subjective Work Evaluation. The raw result was obtained on the basis of summing up all the points, which were afterwards transformed into 10 standard values. The general result was given in 10 standard values, whereas the results of stress factors were quoted as mean results of raw values and were referred to results defined as high for a given factor. The results obtained were statistically analysed on the basis of t-Student test. The significance level adopted was p<0.05. The results obtained in a particular professional group were compared as well as the impact of socio-demographic variables, such as level of education, marital status, place of residence, on the intensification of stress related to a particular factor of work evaluation, was also analysed. Stress experienced by women at a workplace affects not ony their professional life, but also family life and social intercourses. In the women?s opinion, an unpleasant workplace is such a workplace where the feeling of mental workload is connected with the lack of rewards (motivation), uncertainty resulting from organisation of daily chores and lack of support from others. The high general level of stress was noted among the group of women working in agriculture, in pharmaceutical companies, as well as among those who perform physical work (seamstresses). The intensification of stress at a workplace had a considerable impact on the value of arterial pressure among the group of woman medical representatives, as well as among the group of woman office workers. No significant dependencies were concluded between socio-demographic variables and the general level of exposure to intensified stress in the examined professional groups. The above research confirms the need for further examination of the working environment of women and its impact on health. Obviously, attempts should be made in order to improve the conditions of work for women, bearing in mind the fact that the adoption of neutral attitude towards the sexes when assessing risk and undertaking preventive activities may result in the female gender being underestimated or even disregarded.