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The psychosocial work environment and incident diabetes in Ontario, Canada

Smith PM, Glazier RH, Lu H, Mustard CA. Occup Med (Lond). 2012; 62(6):413-9.


Background — Relatively few longitudinal studies have explored the relationship between psychosocial work conditions and diabetes incidence. Given the increasing global burden of diabetes this is an important area for public health research.

Aims — To examine the relationships between dimensions of the psychosocial work environment on the subsequent incidence of diabetes among men and women in Ontario, Canada over a 9 year period.

Methods — The authors used data from Ontario respondents (35 to 60 years of age) to the 2000–01 Canadian Community Health Survey linked to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan database for physician services and the Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstract Database for hospital admissions. The sample of actively employed labour market participants with no previous diagnoses for diabetes was followed for a 9 year period to ascertain incident diabetes.

Results — There were 7443 participants. Low levels of job control were associated with an increased risk of diabetes among women, but not among men. Counter to our hypotheses high levels of social support were also associated with increased diabetes risk among women, but not among men. No relationship was found between any psychosocial work measure and risk of diabetes among men.

Conclusions — Given the increasing prevalence of diabetes worldwide, job control could potentially be an import ant modifiable risk factor to reduce the incidence of diabetes among female, but not among male, workers. More research is needed to understand the pathways through which low social support may protect against the development of diabetes.

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Keywords: Diabetes Social determinants of health

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