Poor management linked to heart disease among employees

Bad management and leadership can increase the likelihood of serious heart disease among employees, Swedish researchers have found.

Scientists at Stockholm University tracked the heart health of more than 3,000 male employees aged between 19 and 70 working in the Stockholm area between 1992 and 1995. Their occupational health records were then matched with national registry data on hospital admissions and death from heart disease up to 2003.

All the participants were asked to rate the leadership style of their senior managers, using a validated scoring system.

Competencies included: how clearly managers set out goals what managers expected of them in their role how good they were at communicating and giving feedback how successfully they managed change how inclusive they were and how much they delegated.

During the monitoring period, 74 cases of fatal and non-fatal heart attacks or acute angina, or death from coronary heart disease, occurred.

The more competent senior managers were reported to be, the lower the risk of a serious heart problem or death among lower -ranking employees. The reverse was also true, with the association between poor leadership and the risk of serious heart disease strengthening the longer an employee worked for the same company.

The researchers concluded that if a direct cause and effect is confirmed, then managers’ behaviour should be targeted in a bid to stave off serious heart disease among junior employees.

“One could speculate that a present and active manager, providing structure, information and support, counteracts destructive processes in work groups, thereby promoting regenerative rather than stress-related physiological processes in employees,” the report said.

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