Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Work stress and health in Western European and post-communist countries: an East–West comparison study


Background: There is evidence that psychosocial factors at work influence the risk of poor health in Western societies, but little is known about the effect of work stress in the former communist countries. The aim of this paper is to compare the association of work stress with self-rated health in Western European and post-communist countries.

Methods: Data from four epidemiological studies were used: the HAPIEE study (Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic), the Hungarian Epidemiological Panel (Hungary), the Heinz Nixdorf Recall study (Germany) and the Whitehall II study (UK). The overall sample consisted of 18 494 male and female workers aged 35–65 years.

Results: High effort-reward imbalance at work was associated with poor self-rated health. The adjusted odds ratios for the highest versus lowest quartile of the effort-reward ratio were 3.8 (95% CI 1.9 to 7.7) in Hungary, 3.6 (95% CI 2.3 to 5.7) in the Czech Republic, 2.5 (95% CI 1.5 to 4.1) in the UK, 2.3 (95% CI 1.6 to 3.5) in Germany, 1.5 (95% CI 1.0 to 2.1) in Poland and 1.4 (95% CI 1.1 to 1.8) in Russia. The differences in odds ratios between countries were statistically significant (p<0.05). A similar pattern was observed for the effect of overcommitment on poor health.

Conclusion: The association of effort-reward imbalance at work and of a high degree of work-related overcommitment with poor self-rated health was seen in all countries, but the size of the effects differed considerably. It does not appear that the effects in Eastern Europe are systematically stronger than in the West.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.