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New bullying link to cardiovascular disease

Monday November 19th, 2018

Bullying and violence at work significantly increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, Danish researchers report today.

The observational study involved more than 79,000 people of working age in Denmark and Sweden over a 25-year period and is reported today in the European Heart Journal.

The researchers say that if there is a link between the two, work-place bullying may be responsible for 5% of all instances of cardiovascular disease.

Out of the participants 9% reported suffering bullying at work – mostly from colleagues - and 13% reported experience of violence or threats, mostly from people outside their organisation.

Researcher Tianwei Xu, of Copenhagen University, said: “These stressful events are related to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease in a dose-response manner – in other words, the greater the exposure to the bullying or violence, the greater the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“From this study we cannot conclude that there is a causal relation between workplace bullying or workplace violence and cardiovascular disease - but we provide empirical evidence in support of such a causal relation, especially given the plausible biological pathway between workplace major stressors and cardiovascular disease.

“This is further supported by the dose-response trend and the robustness of the results in various sensitivity analyses.”

Writing in the journal, Professor Christoph Herrmann-Lingen, director of the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at the University of Göttingen Medical Centre, Göttingen, Germany, writes: “We do not know to what degree the increased CVD incidence was driven by objective events (that could best be prevented by workplace interventions), subjective perceptions of the events, and psychobiological reactions to them (which might require efforts addressing individual stress resilience and coping) or pre-existing psychological conditions (which are per se associated with increased CVD risk and would call for early recognition, treatment, or even prevention of the underlying problems).”

Tianwei Xu et al. Workplace bullying and workplace violence as risk factors for cardiovascular disease: a multi-cohort study. European Heart Journal 19 November 2018; doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehy683

Tags: Europe | Heart Health | Mental Health

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