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0226 Using Biomarkers to Measure Work Stress: Allostatic Load by Occupation and Industry in the Chilean Workforce
  1. Devan Hawkins,
  2. Laura Kernan,
  3. Junhee Cho,
  4. Manuel Cifuentes
  1. University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA, USA

Abstract

Objectives One hypothesised mechanism by which chronic stress results in negative health outcomes is through allostatic load (AL), which is a measure of the cumulative ‘wear and tear’ experienced by the body when activating physiologic responses in order to maintain homeostasis. This studied aimed to quantify and compare the mean levels of allostatic load experienced by workers in different occupations and industries in Chile.

Method From a weighted national survey of the Chilean population (n = 1199), occupations and industries were categorised by their average AL level, which was measured using a composite of secondary biomarkers of chronic stress exposure that fell outside of a “well-centred” range (extreme normal high value biomarkers). The numbers of biomarkers that fell outside of this range were counted for each worker in order to represent AL. Adjusting by age, sex, education, smoking status, and personal income, Poisson-log generalised linear mixed models were used to generate mean levels of AL for each occupation and industry.

Results An important and statistically significant gradient was observed in mean AL levels between different occupations (from 0.7 to 4.1 mean number of extreme normal high value biomarkers) and industries (from 0.8 to 2.3).

Conclusions There is a clear occupational gradient of AL in the Chilean workforce. Preventive and clinical activities should focus on workers of those occupations with highest AL, because previous studies have observed an association between AL and mortality. The work-related risk factors that generate these occupational and industrial gradients in AL should be examined further.

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