Epidemiology of Job Stress and Health in Japan: Review of Current Evidence and Future Direction
With the increasing concern about job stress, there is a growing body of literature addressing psychosocial job stress and its adverse effects on health in Japan. This paper reviews research findings over the past 15 years concerning the assessment of job stress, the relationship of job stress to mental and physical health, and the effects of worksite stress reduction activities in Japan. Although studies were conducted in the past using ad-hoc job stress questionnaires, wellestablished job
... established job stressor scales have since been translated into Japanese, their psychometric properties tested and these scales extensively used in recent epidemiologic studies. While the impact of overtime and quantitative job overload on mental health seems moderate, job control, skill use and worksite support, as well as qualitative job demands, had greater effects on psychological distress and drinking problems in cross-sectional and prospective studies. These job stressors also indicated a strong association with psychiatric disorders, including major depression, even with a prospective study design. Long working hours were associated with a higher risk of myocardial infarction, diabetes mellitus and hypertension. There is evidence that the job demands-control model, as well as the use of new technology at work, is associated with higher levels of blood pressure and serum lipids among Japanese working populations. Fibrinolytic activity, blood glucose levels, immune functions and medical consultation rates were also affected by job stressors. It is further suggested that Japanese workers tend to suppress expression of positive feelings, which results in apparently higher psychological distress and lower job satisfaction among Japanese workers compared with workers in the U.S. Future epidemiologic studies in Japan should focus more on a prospective study design, theoretical models of job stress, job stress among women, and cultural difference and well-designed intervention studies of various types of worksite stress reduction.