Autonomic nervous system activity and workplace stressors—A systematic review

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Abstract

Aim:

This systematic review evaluates and summarizes the evidence of the association between psychosocial work environment as indicated by several work-stress models such as Job-Demand-Control (JDC), Effort-Reward-Imbalance (ERI), or Organizational Justice (OJ) and autonomic nervous system (ANS) function as indexed by heart rate variability (HRV).

Method:

We conducted a systematic literature search following the PRISMA-Statement in eleven databases including Medline, Web of Science and PsycINFO to address medical as well as psychological aspects of the relation between psychosocial work-stress models and HRV.

Results:

We identified 19 publications with a total of 8382 employees from ten countries reporting data from the years 1976–2008.

Results:

Overall, nine of all studies report a negative and significant association between vagally-mediated HRV and measures of stress at work, while eight of all studies report a negative and significant association to mixed sympathetic and parasympathetic measures of HRV.

Conclusions:

This systematic review provides evidence that adverse psychosocial work conditions are negatively associated with ANS function as indexed by HRV.

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