British research reveals findings that had better be taken heed of, by bosses. The study shows that feelings of being treated unfairly at work can lead to dire consequences, like a heart attack.
The study lead by Roberto De Vogli from University College London and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health tracked the health of 8,000 U.K. civil servants working in London for almost 11 years.
The researchers found that those who felt their employer, family or society in general often treated them unjustly were twice as likely to have serious heart disease as those who perceived their treatment as fair. They were also observed to have poorer physical and mental health overall.
The researchers say the study reinforces the need for fair treatment in the workplace. It also provided a view into which people were most likely to find life unjust, although the results were adjusted to account for factors like hostile behavior or lower socioeconomic status.
Says Ellen Mason, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation: ``Bosses should take heed.
"Staff who feel unfairly treated at work may develop low self-esteem, which can contribute to stress, depression and anxiety. This can make us much more likely to eat poorly and eat and smoke more, thus increasing our risk of heart disease."
People in low level jobs, women, smokers, as well as those who were obese, sedentary and abstained from alcohol were most likely to describe themselves as treated unfairly, according to the study findings.
"This is the first study showing that a general sense of unfairness is related to health and heart disease," says De Vogli. "The key message here is to support and introduce policies that promote fairness in society, with an emphasis on things like gender equality."
Almost 3,000 people in the study felt they were unfairly treated. The least positive category, those who "strongly agreed" with a statement that said "I often have the feeling that I am being treated unfairly," included 567 people, and 51 of them had heart attacks or angina during the study.
By contrast, the most positive category, whose respondents "strongly disagreed" with the statement, included 966 people, and only 64 of them had a heart attack or angina or inadequate blood flow through the vessels of the heart.
"Challenges to an individual's sense of personal value or self-worth owing to unfairness may influence health through emotional and biological pathways," the researchers opined in the article.
Those mechanisms may cause reactions such as resistance to insulin, inflammation and alteration of heart and digestive processes, the authors further observe.
Exercising, eating a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding smoking and stress are among the ways people can keep their hearts healthy, the researchers stress.