Resilience, work engagement and stress reactivity in a middle-aged manual worker population

Julie K. Black, George M. Balanos, Anna Whittaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
584 Downloads (Pure)


Work stress is a growing problem in Europe. Together, the negative physiological effect of stress on health, and increasing age increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in those aged over 50 years. Therefore, identifying older workers who may be at risk of work-related stress, and its physiological effects, is key to promoting their health and wellbeing in the workforce. The present study examined the relationship between perceived psychological resilience and work-related factors (work engagement and presenteeism) and the physiological response to acute psychological stress in older manual workers in the UK. Thirty-one participants, mean (SD) age 54.9 (3.78) years reported perceived levels of resilience, work engagement, and presenteeism using standardized questionnaires. Cardiovascular measurements (heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) and salivary cortisol were used to assess their physiological response to an acute psychological stress task. Resilience was not associated with work-related factors or reactivity. However, workers with higher work engagement showed lower SBP (p = 0.02) and HR (p = 0.001) reactivity than those with lower work engagement. Further, those with higher sickness presenteeism also had higher HR reactivity (p = 0.03). This suggests a potential pathway by which higher work stress might contribute to the risk of future cardiovascular disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-15
JournalInternational journal of psychophysiology : official journal of the International Organization of Psychophysiology
Early online date24 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Cortisol
  • Cardiovascular reactivity
  • Older workers
  • Resilience


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