Chapter 7: Biological Measures and the Psychosocial Working Environment
Published:19 Oct 2011
Å. Marie Hansen, A. Helene Garde, and M. Aarrebo Jensen, in Biomarkers and Human Biomonitoring Volume 2: Selected Biomarkers of Current Interest, ed. L. Knudsen, D. F. Merlo, L. Knudsen, and D. F. Merlo, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2011, vol. 2, ch. 7, pp. 87-114.
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The chapter covers the possible impact on physiological indicators of the psychosocial working environment. The aim of the present chapter is twofold. One aim is to provide the reader with insight into the present evidence for how different physiological responses may be used as potential biomarkers of the psychosocial working environment. The other aim is to address and thereby bring awareness to potential sources of variation and confounders. The psychosocial working environment is many faceted. In the present chapter we touch upon the psychosocial working environment in terms of: job demands, job control, leadership, social support from colleagues and supervisors, monotony/high work pace; traumatic occurrences, shift work, organizational changes, job satisfaction/job dissatisfaction and effort–reward imbalance. The physiological systems have a major role in the coordination of exposure to adverse psychosocial working environment. The systems included in the present chapter are anabolic and catabolic activity together with other metabolic activities and the immune system.
In occupational health studies, the study groups most often comprise healthy subjects performing their work. Therefore knowledge about how everyday behaviour affects the physiological systems and their natural biological variation, e.g. changes related to gender and age, is essential. In field studies, sampling is often planned in the most practical way in order to ensure compliance. This means for example that blood is sampled in the morning at the work site just after work starts or saliva is collected by self-monitoring during 24 hours and sent by mail. This puts high demands on the analytical methods, and particularly on knowledge about how collection and storage may affect the measured results. We therefore include examples of this in the chapter, which focuses on biological measures in blood, urine and saliva.