Workplace bullying and violence as risk factors for type 2 diabetes: A multicohort study and meta-analysis

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Tianwei Xu, Linda L Magnusson Hanson, Theis Lange, Liis Starkopf, Hugo Westerlund, Ida E. H. Madsen, Reiner Rugulies, Jaana Pentti, Sari Stenholm, Jussi Vahtera, Åse M Hansen, Mika Kivimäki, Naja H Rod

AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: The aim of this multicohort study was to examine whether employees exposed to social stressors at work, such as workplace bullying and violence, have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

METHODS: The study included 45,905 men and women (40-65 years of age and free of diabetes at baseline) from four studies in Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Workplace bullying and violence were self-reported at baseline. Incident diabetes was ascertained through national health and medication records and death registers. Marginal structural Cox models adjusted for age, sex, country of birth, marital status and educational level were used for the analyses.

RESULTS: Nine per cent of the population reported being bullied at work and 12% were exposed to workplace violence or threats of violence. Bullied participants had a 1.46 (95% CI 1.23, 1.74) times higher risk of developing diabetes compared with non-bullied participants. Exposure to violence or threats of violence was also associated with a higher risk of diabetes (HR 1.26 [95% CI 1.02, 1.56]). The risk estimates attenuated slightly when taking BMI into account, especially for bullying. The results were similar for men and women, and were consistent across cohorts.

CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: We found a higher risk of incident type 2 diabetes among employees exposed to bullying or violence in the workplace. Further research is needed to determine whether policies to reduce bullying and violence at work may reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes in working populations. Research on the mechanisms is also highly warranted.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDiabetologia
Volume61
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
ISSN0012-186X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

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