Resilience, work engagement and stress reactivity in a middle-aged manual worker population



Black JK, Balanos GM & Whittaker (previously Phillips) AC (2017) Resilience, work engagement and stress reactivity in a middle-aged manual worker population. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 116, pp. 9-15.

Work stress is a growing problem in Europe. Together, the negative physiological effect of stress on health, and increasing age increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in those aged over 50 years. Therefore, identifying older workers who may be at risk of work-related stress, and its physiological effects, is key to promoting their health and wellbeing in the workforce. The present study examined the relationship between perceived psychological resilience and work-related factors (work engagement and presenteeism) and the physiological response to acute psychological stress in older manual workers in the UK. Thirty-one participants, mean (SD) age 54.9 (3.78) years reported perceived levels of resilience, work engagement, and presenteeism using standardized questionnaires. Cardiovascular measurements (heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) and salivary cortisol were used to assess their physiological response to an acute psychological stress task. Resilience was not associated with work-related factors or reactivity. However, workers with higher work engagement showed lower SBP (p = 0.02) and HR (p = 0.001) reactivity than those with lower work engagement. Further, those with higher sickness presenteeism also had higher HR reactivity (p = 0.03). This suggests a potential pathway by which higher work stress might contribute to the risk of future cardiovascular disease.

Cortisol; Cardiovascular reactivity; Older workers; Resilience

International Journal of Psychophysiology: Volume 116

FundersUniversity of Birmingham
Publication date30/06/2017
Publication date online24/02/2017
Date accepted by journal21/02/2017
PublisherElsevier BV

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Professor Anna Whittaker
Professor Anna Whittaker

Professor of Behavioural Medicine, Sport