Workplace Discrimination Poses ‘Elevated Risk’ of Hypertension


Discrimination in the workplace can be heartbreaking, literally.

A new learn A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that US workers who experienced high levels of discrimination in the workplace were 54% more likely to develop hypertension (high blood pressure). The increased risk was independent of sociodemographic, behavioral, and other psychosocial factors.

The report tracked 1,246 workers over a period of nearly eight years and recorded incidents of workplace discrimination and high blood pressure during that period.

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At the end of the eight-year study, 319 of the 1,246 participants developed high blood pressure during that period. Those who developed the disease had no history of high blood pressure prior to the study.

“The adverse effects of discrimination on cardiovascular disease have significant implications for workers’ health and point to the need for government and employer policies to address discrimination,” the researchers write in the report.

“Injustice” in the workplace was measured using a 6-point instrument in which participants answered questions on a 5-point severity scale:

  • “How often do you think you’re wrongly given jobs that nobody else wanted to do?”
  • “How often are you watched more closely than other workers?”
  • “How often does your manager or boss use ethnic, racial, or sexual slurs or jokes?”
  • “How often do your colleagues use ethnic, racial, or sexual slurs or jokes?”
  • “How often do you feel like your boss ignores you or doesn’t take you seriously?”
  • “How many times has a colleague with less experience and qualifications been promoted before you?”

The level of risk of discrimination in the workplace was then rated on three scales (low, medium and high) based on the sum of the participants’ responses to the six questions. High blood pressure was then assessed using a yes or no scale of doctor-self-diagnosed hypertension, with participants being asked questions such as, “Has a doctor ever told you that you have or have had high blood pressure?”

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According to a year 2021 learn According to case management and employee relations platform AllVoices, 55% of more than 800 US workers say they have experienced workplace discrimination at their company.

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