Psychosocial stress at work doubles the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged women: Evidence from the Whitehall II study

Alexandros Heraclides, Tarani Chandola, Daniel R. Witte, Eric J. Brunner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE - To investigate the effect of psychosocial stress at work on risk of type 2 diabetes, adjusting for conventional risk factors, among a sample of British, white-collar, middleaged men and women. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - This was a prospective analysis (1991-2004) from the Whitehall II cohort study. The current sample consists of 5,895 Caucasian middle-aged civil servants free from diabetes at baseline. Type 2 diabetes was ascertained by an oral glucose tolerance test supplemented by self-reports at baseline and four consecutive waves of data collection including two screening phases. The job strain and iso-strain models were used to assess psychosocial work stress. RESULTS- Iso-strain in the workplace was associated with a twofold higher risk of type 2 diabetes in age-adjusted analysis in women but not in men (hazard ratio 1.94 [95% CI 1.17-3.21). This effect remained robust to adjustment for socioeconomic position and outside work stressors and was only attenuated by 20% after adjustment for health behaviors, obesity, and other type 2 diabetes risk factors. CONCLUSIONS - Psychosocial work stress was an independent predictor of type 2 diabetes among women after a 15-year follow-up. This association was not explained by potential confounding and mediating factors. More evidence from prospective studies using the same work stress models is needed to support the current findings and provide further information on sex differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2230-2235
Number of pages6
JournalDiabetes Care
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


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