Men and women exposed to bullying and violence in the workplace had increased risk for CVD, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal.
“If there is a causal link between bullying or violence at work and cardiovascular disease, then the removal of workplace bullying would mean we could avoid 5% of all cardiovascular cases, and the eradication of violence at work would avoid more than 3% of all cases,” Tianwei Xu, PhD fellow in the section of epidemiology at University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said in a press release.
Researchers analyzed data from 79,201 participants (mean age, 43 years; 53% women) with no prior CVD from three population-based studies in Sweden and Denmark. A self-administered questionnaire was completed to collect information on workplace bullying within 12 months before baseline. Workplace violence exposure was defined as violent actions or threats at work within 12 months before baseline.
A composite outcome of interest was incident CVD, which included diagnoses of the first hospitalization with CHD or cerebrovascular disease.
During a mean follow-up of 3.8 years, workplace bullying was reported by 9% of participants, and 13% reported exposure to workplace violence within the past 12 months before baseline.
There were 3,229 cases of incident CVD during a mean follow-up on 12.4 years, and 765 cases were recorded during the first 4 years of follow-up.
Compared with participants who were not bullied at work, those who were had a 59% increased risk for incident CVD (HR = 1.59; 95% CI, 1.28-1.98) after adjustment for sex, age, marital status, educational level and country of birth. The population-attributable risk for workplace bullying was 5% (95% CI, 2.5-8.1).
Violence at work also increased the risk for incident CVD (HR = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.12-1.4) with a population attributable risk of 3.1% (95% CI, 1.5-4.9).
Results were similar with different CV risk stratifications, follow-up lengths and other adjustments.
Workplace violence and the risk for CVD had a dose-response relationship (P for trend < .001). This relationship was also seen for cerebrovascular disease (P for trend < .001), although it was absent for CHD (P for trend = .22).
“Further research is needed to determine whether preventive measures directed toward bullying and violence may reduce CVD risk as well as to investigate the underlying mechanistic pathways,” Xu and colleagues wrote. – by Darlene Dobkowski
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.