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Stress. 2010 Sep;13(5):425-34. doi: 10.3109/10253891003692753.

A prospective cohort study of deficient maternal nurturing attitudes predicting adulthood work stress independent of adulthood hostility and depressive symptoms.

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  • 1Institute of Behavioural Sciences, Psychology, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Stressful childhood environments arising from deficient nurturing attitudes are hypothesized to contribute to later stress vulnerability. We examined whether deficient nurturing attitudes predict adulthood work stress. Participants were 443 women and 380 men from the prospective Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. Work stress was assessed as job strain and effort-reward imbalance in 2001 when the participants were from 24 to 39 years old. Deficient maternal nurturance (intolerance and low emotional warmth) was assessed based on mothers' reports when the participants were at the age of 3-18 years and again at the age of 6-21 years. Linear regressions showed that deficient emotional warmth in childhood predicted lower adulthood job control and higher job strain. These associations were not explained by age, gender, socioeconomic circumstances, maternal mental problems or participant hostility, and depressive symptoms. Deficient nurturing attitudes in childhood might affect sensitivity to work stress and selection into stressful work conditions in adulthood. More attention should be paid to pre-employment factors in work stress research.

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