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November 26, 2008

HR Fact Friday: Bad Bosses Raise Heart Attack Risk for Men

Not exactly the type of information to give one the warm fuzzies right before Thanksgiving but still it brings one to be appreciative and give thanks for having a good boss. 

Employees who say their managers are passive, inconsiderate and uncommunicative were more likely to suffer from heart attacks, according to a Swedish study that looked at 3,122 working men’s health records. Those who thought well of their bosses were less likely to get heart disease, and the higher their opinion, the lower the risk, researchers found.

The study, published today by the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is the first to establish a clear link between management style and employee heart health, and to show the effects over time. Earlier research shows poor management causes employee burnout, depression and high blood pressure.

The study found that if you have a good boss, you have at least a 20 percent lower risk and if you stay with your boss for four years, you have at least a 39 percent lower risk.

Researchers used a standardized stress test and examined hospital records. On average, participants at the study’s start were 42 years old, highly educated and slightly overweight. Three out of four exercised “now and then” or regularly. The men filled out a section of the so-called stress profile on “leadership climate,” scoring their bosses on such statements as “My boss is good at pushing through and carrying out changes.” An area where most respondents agreed was an important trait in defining a good boss and reducing stress was showing concern and taking action to improve working conditions.

Women weren’t included in the study because too few had heart problems.

Over the 10 years that participants were tracked, 74 had heart attacks or angina, all of which required hospitalization and some of which were fatal, the study found.

Source: Frances Schwartzkopff, 11/25/2008, bloomberg.com, fschwartzkop@bloomberg.net

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