Effects of psychosocial characteristics of work on pregnancy outcomes: A critical review

Miriam Mutambudzi, John D. Meyer, Nicholas Warren, Susan Reisine

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Birth outcomes may influence subsequent susceptibility to chronic diseases. With the increased number of women who continue to work during pregnancy, occupational stress has been hypothesized to be a potential contributor to adverse reproductive health outcomes. The Job Demand and Control model has been primarily used in investigating associations between work-related stress and outcomes such as preterm delivery, low birth weight, and spontaneous abortion. A literature review of occupational factors that have been associated with adverse reproductive outcomes was conducted. In studies assessing preterm delivery and low birth weight, some evidence has suggested a modest association with work-related stress but has not been conclusive. In the literature on psychosocial characteristics of work and spontaneous abortion, job strain alone was often not associated with adverse outcomes. However the presence of other risk factors resulted in a synergistic effect which strengthened the odds of an adverse outcome. Future studies should use a prospective design with a large study sample, in which work-related stress exposure data are collected before or in the early stages of the pregnancy. In addition, future research should measure psychosocial characteristics of work both objectively and subjectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-297
Number of pages19
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Job strain
  • Low birth weight
  • Pregnancy outcomes
  • Preterm delivery
  • Psychosocial
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Work-related stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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