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June/July 2014 (vol. 11/1)

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Research Plus

No stress link to inflammatory bowel disease

Patients and clinicians often perceive stress as a risk factor for the two main inflammatory bowel diseases, Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). However, a meta-analysis of 11 British and Scandinavian cohort studies, with over 95,000 participants, finds no link between work-related stress and the occurrence of either condition. The studies were part of the Individual-participant-data Meta-analysis in Working Populations Consortium, which includes the Whitehall II study in the UK and others in Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Job strain (a key indicator of work stress) was assessed using self-report questionnaires at baseline, with disease recorded over a mean follow-up time of 10.5 years. Of those free from either disease at baseline, 126 people went on to develop CD and 414 developed UC; however, neither condition was significantly associated with job strain. For CD, hazard ratio (HR) = 0.89 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.52–1.52); for UC, HR = 1.14 (CI 0.80–1.61).

Job Strain and the Risk of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Individual-Participant Meta-Analysis of 95 000 Men and Women. PLoS ONE 2014; 9(2): e88711. February 2014.

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Occupational Health at Work June/July 2014 (vol. 11/1) pp43