Everybody knows how deadly cardiovascular disease is – more Americans die from it each year, and it costs more than any other disease. It’s projected to get worse over the next decade.

But a recent study published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health – based on data culled from Gallup surveys of over 412,000 full-time U.S. workers between 2010 and 2012 indicate that workplace supervisors – your common boss – could actually unwittingly be contributing to this problem.

It’s well known that stress in the workplace that put workers at risk for cardiovascular disease. But the authors of the above study chose to concentrate on trust, a vitally important part of the workplace.

They asked workers, “Does your supervisor always create an environment that is open and trusting, or not?”

Out of all U.S. workers surveyed, 21% answered “no.”

Based on their answers, the authors discovered that trust was linked with “increased adjusted odds” of having many of the cardiovascular disease factors – which are smoking, obesity, low physical activity, poor diet, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

In a group of workers who created a feeling of mistrust (more workers answering “no), more than 20% of workers have four or more of the seven CVD risk factors.

More findings

  • Workers who don’t work in an open and trusting environment had greater chances of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes
  • Workers in environments with low trust were more likely to be smokers, eat poorly, and be obese
  • Women who work in mistrustful environments had higher odds of lower physical activity

The authors concluded that pessimistic, mistrustful work environments could contribute to an increased chance of having the risk factors of CVD. Therefore, that puts the onus on bosses – the working environment they create could be having a much bigger effect than they think.

Originally Published on The Ladders.

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