It may seem as though the stress of working a high-profile job will lead you to an earlier grave, but a new study found that people suffering from work-related stress are only more likely to die earlier if they don’t have work flexibility or control over their careers.
The study found that people working in low-control jobs with high job demands were 15.4 percent more likely to face an early death compared with those working low-control jobs with low job demands. But for people working high-control jobs, those with harsher constraints and high demands had a 34 percent chance of dying sooner than those who had more control over their workflow and those who were able to incorporate personal goals into their careers.
The study, “Worked to Death: The Relationships of Job Demands and Job Control With Mortality,” conducted by a group of researchers from Indiana University Kelly School of Business was released on Monday, and will soon be featured in the medical journal Personnel Psychology. More than 2,300 Wisconsin residents were included in the study, which tracked workers 60 years and older over a seven-year period
The paper’s lead author, Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, said in a statement that the findings, “suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision making.”
Gonzalez-Mulé’s theory seems to be in line with other studies regarding the negative health effects work-related stress can have on a body, including a 2006 report that found people suffering from workplace burnout were 1.8 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Of the 17 people (out of 677 overall) that developed diabetes during the five-year study, hypertension didn’t appear to be a factor, prompting researchers to attribute the disease to a surge of stress triggers faced at work that created a spike in fatty acids in the blood and decrease in “good” cholesterol.