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Less job control might be wracking more than your brain

A new study found people with less control over their jobs die younger and are more likely to be overweight than people who do have control over their jobs.
A new study found people with less control over their jobs die younger and are more likely to be overweight than people who do have control over their jobs. File photo

A new study found people with less control over their jobs die younger and are more likely to be overweight than people who do have control over their jobs.

The study showed correlation, not causation, and was recently published in a journal called Personnel Psychology.

Two co-authors of the study also looked at whether high control can make stressful jobs beneficial. Nearly 2,400 people, ages 63 to 67 in 2004, took part in a long-term study in Wisconsin.

The participants answered questions about their jobs in 2004 and researchers tracked their health to 2011 and compared death rates.

Researchers defined low control over jobs as “an inability to set one's own goals, decide how to accomplish tasks and prioritize work,” such as construction workers, auto mechanics or nursing aides. Examples of high-control jobs include supervisors, craftsmen and construction inspectors.

The findings: low control over a stressful job was associated with a 15.4 percent increase in the likelihood of death compared to having low control over a low-stress job. And people in high-demand jobs who had high control over their work seemed to decrease their chances of death by 34 percent.

The findings are supported by previous research that shows effects of stress start as psychological, but lead to physical problems after compounding over time.

One of the researchers told MedlinePlus Health, a product of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, that gaining more control over work could translate to stress relief and even promote “good” stress, “like having pressure to work fast and to use intense concentration, which may result in feelings of accomplishment and mastery.”

Gabriella Dunn: 316-268-6400, @gabriella_dunn

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