Psychosocial job strain and polypharmacy: A national cohort study

Edwin C. K. Tan*, Kuan-Yu Pan, Linda L. Magnusson Hanson, Johan Fastbom, Hugo Westerlund, Hui-Xin Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives Psychosocial job strain has been associated with a range of adverse health outcomes. The aim of this study was to examine the association between psychosocial job strain and prospective risk of polypharmacy (the prescription of ≥5 medications) and to evaluate whether coping strategies can modify this risk. Methods Cohort study of 9703 working adults [mean age 47.5 (SD 10.8) years; 54% female] who participated in the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health (SLOSH) at baseline in 2006 or 2008. Psychosocial job strain was represented by job demands and control, and measured by the Swedish version of the demand–control questionnaire. The outcome was incidence of polypharmacy over an eight-year follow-up period. Information on dispensed drugs were extracted from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register. Logistic regression was used to estimate the association of job strain status with polypharmacy, adjusted for a range of confounders. Results During the follow-up, 1409 people developed polypharmacy (incident rate: 20.6/1000 person-years). In comparison to workers with low-strain jobs (high control/low demands), those with high-strain jobs (low control/high demands) had a significantly higher risk of incident polypharmacy (OR 1.40, 95% CI 1.04–1.89). The impact of high-strain jobs on developing polypharmacy remained among those with covert coping strategies (ie, directed inwards or towards others) but not among those with open coping strategies (ie, primarily directed toward the stressor). Conclusions Workers in high-strain jobs may be at an increased risk of polypharmacy. Open coping strategies may reduce the negative impact of psychosocial job strain on risk of polypharmacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-598
Number of pages10
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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