Job Stress in Healthcare Workers Triggers Hand Dermatitis

Nicola Magnavita, of the Institute of Occupational Medicine at the Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome, Italy, and colleagues, sought to evaluate whether occupational stress factors are associated with skin disorders in hospital workers and whether psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression, act as potential mechanisms through which occupational stress factors are associated with skin disorders.

The researchers invited 1,744 hospital workers to answer a questionnaire concerning the occurrence of skin disorders and psychosocial factors at work. The abbreviated Italian version of the Demand/Control model (Karasek) was used to assess perceived work strain, while the Goldberg scales were used to assess anxiety and depression. Analyses were adjusted for age, gender, occupation, latex glove use and history of atopy.

Of the participants, 25 percent reported hand dermatitis in the previous 12 months and 35 percent had been affected by skin disorders in other parts of the body. High job demands, low social support, high strain and high iso-strain were all associated with a higher prevalence of reported hand skin disorders. Both depression and anxiety were associated with higher risk of hand-skin disorders. The same pattern was observed for dermatological complaints in other parts of the body. Only a slight reduction in the association between occupational stress variables and skin disorders was observed after including depression and anxiety in the model.

Magnavita, et al. concluded that job stress plays a significant role in triggering skin disorders among hospital workers and psychological problems do not appear to be the mechanism behind this association. Occupational health education and training should focus on reducing job demands and occupational stress in order to prevent skin problems among hospital workers. Their research was published in BMC Public Health.

Reference: Magnavita N, Elovainio M, Heponiemi T, Magnavita AM and Bergamaschi A. Are skin disorders related to work strain in hospital workers? A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health 2011, 11:600doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-600

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