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Organisational justice and markers of inflammation: the Whitehall II study
  1. Marko Elovainio1,2,
  2. Jane E Ferrie1,
  3. Archana Singh-Manoux1,3,
  4. David Gimeno1,4,
  5. Roberto De Vogli1,
  6. Martin Shipley1,
  7. Jussi Vahtera5,
  8. Eric Brunner1,
  9. Michael G Marmot1,
  10. Mika Kivimäki1,5
  1. 1University College London, London, UK
  2. 2National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3INSERM, France
  4. 4The University of Texas School of Public Health, Health Science Center at Houston, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, San Antonio Regional Campus, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  5. 5Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Marko Elovainio, National Institute for Health and Welfare, PO Box 30, Fi-00271 Helsinki, Finland; marko.elovainio{at}


Objectives Low organisational justice has been shown to be associated with increased risk of various health problems, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. We tested whether organisational injustice contributes to chronic inflammation in a population of middle-aged men and women.

Methods This prospective cohort study uses data from 3205 men and 1204 women aged 35–55 years at entry into the Whitehall II study (phase 1, 1985–1988). Organisational justice perceptions were assessed at phase 1 and phase 2 (1989–1990) and circulating inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin (IL)-6 at phase 3 (1991–1993) and phase 7 (2003–2004).

Results In men, low organisational justice was associated with increased CRP levels at both follow-ups (phase 3 and 7) and increased IL-6 at the second follow-up (phase 7). The long term (phase 7) associations were largely independent of covariates, such as age, employment grade, body mass index and depressive symptoms. In women, no relationship was found between organisational justice and CRP or IL-6.

Conclusions This study suggests that organisational injustice is associated with increased long-term levels of inflammatory markers among men.

  • Justice
  • CRP
  • inflammation
  • CHD
  • psychosocial factors
  • epidemiology, immunology
  • psychology
  • cardiovascular
  • stress

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  • Funding The Whitehall II study has been supported by grants from the Medical Research Council; British Heart Foundation; Health and Safety Executive; Department of Health; National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (HL36310), US, NIH; National Institute on Aging (AG13196), US, NIH; Agency for Health Care Policy Research (HS06516); and the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation Research Networks on Successful Midlife Development and Socio-economic Status and Health. JEF is supported by the MRC (grant number G8802774), MJS by a grant from the British Heart Foundation, MGM by an MRC Research Professorship, and MK by the Academy of Finland (project 117604). Other Funders: NIH.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval for the Whitehall II study was obtained from the University College London Medical School committee on the ethics of human research.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.