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Effect of Family Responsibilities and Job Strain on Ambulatory Blood Pressure Among White-Collar Women

Brisson, Chantal PhD; Laflamme, Nathalie PhD; Moisan, Jocelyne PhD; Milot, Alain MD, MSc, FRCPC; Masse, Benoit PhD; Vezina, Michel MD, MPh, FRCPC

Original Articles

Objective: This study was conducted to determine whether large family responsibilities and their combination with high job strain were associated with an increase in ambulatory blood pressure (BP) among white-collar women.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in a stratified random sample of 199 white-collar women with or without children who were employed full time in jobs involving high or low strain. These women were selected from a population of 3183 women of all ages, employed in eight organizations in Quebec City, Canada. Subjects wore an ambulatory BP monitor for 24 hours during a working day. Mean BPs were calculated. Different measures of family responsibilities were used, based on the number of children and their ages, and domestic work. Job strain was measured using the Job Content Questionnaire recommended by Karasek.

Results: Family responsibility measures were significantly related to diurnal BP among women holding a university degree (N = 69). Indeed, women having large family responsibilities had increases in systolic and diastolic BPs of 2.7 to 5.7/1.8 to 4.0 mm Hg (p <or=to .05). Among women holding a university degree, increases in diurnal systolic and diastolic BPs reached 8.1 to 10.9/5.5 to 7.1 mm Hg (p <or=to .01) among women having both large family responsibilities and high job strain. These results were independent of confounders. There was no significant association among women without a university degree (N = 130).

Conclusions: Large family responsibilities were associated with significant increases in diurnal systolic and diastolic BPs among white-collar women holding a university degree. In these women, the combined exposure of large family responsibilities and high job strain tended to have a greater effect on BP than the exposure to only one of these factors.

From the Departement de medecine sociale et preventive (C.B., N.L., B.M., M.V.), Groupe de recherche en epidemiologie (C.B., N.L., A.M., B.M.), Groupe interdisciplinaire de recherche sur l'organisation, la sante et la securite du travail (C.B., N.L., J.M., M.V.), Equipe de pharmaco-epidemiologie, Faculte de pharmacie, (J.M., A.M.), and Departement de medecine (A.M.), Universite Laval, Quebec, Quebec, Canada.

Address reprint requests to: Chantal Brisson, PhD, Groupe de recherche en epidemiologie, CHA-Pavillon Saint-Sacrement, 1050, chemin Sainte-Foy, Quebec (Quebec), Canada, G1S 4L8. E:mail:

Received for publication October 6, 1997; revision received November 17, 1998.

Copyright © 1999 by American Psychosomatic Society
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