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Reciprocal relationship between psychosocial work stress and quality of life: the role of gender and education from the longitudinal study of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe
  1. Ya-Ke Lu1,
  2. Ya-Mei Qiao1,
  3. Xiao Liang1,
  4. Wu Yao1,
  5. Zhen Yan2,
  6. Hui-Xin Wang1,3,4,
  7. Jin-Jing Pei3
  1. 1 College of Public Health, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China
  2. 2 School of Public Health, Hainan Medical University, Haikou, China
  3. 3 Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
  4. 4 Aging Research Center, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hui-Xin Wang;{at}


Objective To investigate the reciprocal relationship between psychosocial work stress and quality of life (QoL) and to examine whether the relationship can be moderated by gender or education.

Design Longitudinal, population-based study.

Setting The Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE).

Participants The study population was derived from the SHARE, and there were 2006 participants with good QoL at baseline, 1109 with high job control and 1072 with high job reward, respectively, who were followed up for 2 years to detect incidence of poor QoL, low job control and low job reward.

Main outcome measures Logistic regression models were employed to explore the reciprocal relationship between psychological work stress and QoL. Stratification analyses by gender and education were performed.

Results Participants with low reward (OR=1.53, 95% CI 1.26 to 1.88) and low control (OR=1.40, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.71) at baseline were at higher risk of poor QoL over the 2-year follow-up. The combination of low reward and low control further increased the risk (OR=1.90, 95% CI 1.46 to 2.48). Stratified analyses revealed that these associations were more pronounced among those who had high levels of education. Further, individuals with poor QoL were at significantly higher risk of having low reward (OR=2.14, 95% CI 1.55 to 2.96) but not low control (OR=1.33, 95% CI0.98 to 1.79) at the 2-year follow-up, especially among those who had medium levels of education. No gender differences were found.

Conclusions There is a reciprocal relationship between psychological work stress and poor QoL. Education may play an important role in the relationship.

  • quality of life
  • gender
  • education
  • psychological work stress

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  • Contributors Y-KL, Y-MQ, ZY and H-XW designed the study. YL and YQ analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. XL, WY, ZY, H-XW and J-JP contributed to the interpretation of the results and critical intellectual revision of the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research was supported by the Swedish Research Council (grant number: 2018-02998), National Natural Science Foundation of China (81860583), Hainan Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (818QN246) and Outstanding Youth Grant of Zhengzhou University (NO 1521329034).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethics Committee of the University of Mannheim.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement We undertook a secondary analysis of data obtained under the SHARE Data Access Rules ( SHARE data can be accessed by anyone who abides by those rules.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

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