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Workplace stress boosts healthcare costs

Aug. 27, 2011 at 12:12 AM   |   Comments

MONTREAL, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Job-related stress is catching up with workers and increasing healthcare costs, researchers in Canada say.

The study, published in BMC Public Health, found the number of visits to healthcare professionals is as much as 26 percent for workers in high-stress jobs.

First author Sunday Azagba, a Ph.D. candidate in the Concordia University, and colleagues analyzed nationally representative data from the Canadian National Population Health Survey for people ages 18-65.

The results show people in medium- to high-stress jobs visit family doctors and specialists more often than workers with low job stress, Azagba says.

"We believe an increasing number of workers are using medical services to cope with job stress," study co-author Mesbah Sharaf says in a statement. "There is medical evidence that stress can adversely affect an individual's immune system, thereby increasing the risk of disease. Numerous studies have linked stress to back pain, colorectal cancer, infectious disease, heart problems, headaches and diabetes. Job stress may also heighten risky behaviors such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, discourage healthy behaviors such as physical activity and proper diet, and increase consumption of fatty and sweet foods."

Previous research has found that aging populations and prescription drugs increase the cost of healthcare, but few studies have so far correlated workplace stress rates with healthcare costs, the researchers say.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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