Man's best friend may make a positive difference in the workplace by reducing stress and making the job more satisfying for other employees, according to a Virginia Commonwealth University study. Stress is a major contributor to employee absenteeism, morale and burnout and results in significant loss of productivity and resources. But a preliminary study, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, found that dogs in the workplace may buffer the impact of stress during the workday for their owners and make the job more satisfying for those with whom they come into contact. The VCU researchers compared employees who bring their dogs to work, employees who do not bring their dogs to work and employees without pets in the areas of stress, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and support.
Anxious people have a heightened sense of smell when it comes to sniffing out a threat, according to a new study by Elizabeth Krusemark and Wen Li from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US. Their work¬ is published online in Springer's journal Chemosensory Perception. The study is part of a special issue¬ of this journal on neuroimaging the chemical senses. In animals, the sense of smell is an essential tool to detect, locate and identify predators in the surrounding environment. In fact, the olfactory-mediated defense system is so prominent in animals, that the mere presence of predator odors can evoke potent fear and anxiety responses. Smells also evoke powerful emotional responses in humans. Krusemark and Li hypothesized that in humans, detection of a particular bad smell may signal danger of a noxious airborne substance, or a decaying object that carries disease.
Reliable Evidence For Links Between Social Status And Heart Disease In Humans Unlikely To Be Provided By Studies In Monkeys
Studies in monkeys are unlikely to provide reliable evidence for links between social status and heart disease in humans, according to the first ever systematic review of the relevant research. The study, published in PLoS ONE, concludes that although such studies are cited frequently in human health research the evidence is often "cherry picked" and generalisation of the findings from monkeys to human societies does not appear to be warranted. Psychosocial factors such as stress, social instability and work dynamics are often believed to play an important role in the emergence of disease, with the negative effects associated with high stress levels deriving from disturbances and sudden change. In evaluating these effects on humans, the scientific community often relies on primate models because it is easier to induce changes in their environment, and because of monkeys' biological closeness to us.
The pulse quickens, the heart pounds and adrenalin courses through the veins, but in stressful situations is our reaction controlled by our genes, and does it differ between the sexes? Australian scientists, writing in BioEssays, believe the SRY gene, which directs male development, may promote aggression and other traditionally male behavioural traits resulting in the fight-or-flight reaction to stress. Research has shown how the body reacts to stress by activating the adrenal glands which secrete catecholamine hormones into the bloodstream and trigger the aggressive fight-or-flight response. However, the majority of studies into this process have focused on men and have not considered different responses between the sexes. "Historically males and females have been under different selection pressures which are reflected by biochemical and behavioural differences between the sexes, " said Dr Joohyung Lee, from the Prince Henry's Institute in Melbourne.
Increased pain following surgery has long been linked to anxiety and "catastrophizing, " an extreme response to stress. In a new study presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), 97 patients - men and women - who were about to undergo minimally invasive total knee replacement (TKR) surgery, completed a brief survey to quantify their level of anxiety, as well as their typical level of anxiety and potential for catastrophizing. Pain data was then collected for seven days following surgery. Catastrophizing did not correlate with postoperative pain or pain medication use in either men or women, nor did a patient's level of acute anxiety. However, men with anxiety traits - a high level of anxiety unrelated to a stressful event - had higher post-operative pain ratings resulting in longer hospital stays.