We examined the influence of work-related effort-reward imbalance and overcommitment to work (OC), as derived from Siegrist's Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI) model, on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis. We hypothesized that, among healthy workers, both cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) secretion would be increased by effort-reward imbalance and OC and, as a result, cortisol-to-DHEA ratio (C/D ratio) would not differ by effort-reward imbalance or OC. The subjects were 115 healthy female nursery school teachers. Salivary cortisol, DHEA, and C/D ratio were used as indexes of HPA activity. Mixed-model analyses of variance revealed that neither the interaction between the ERI model indicators (i.e., effort, reward, effort-to-reward ratio, and OC) and the series of measurement times (9:00, 12:00, and 15:00) nor the main effect of the ERI model indicators was significant for daytime salivary cortisol, DHEA, or C/D ratio. Multiple linear regression analyses indicated that none of the ERI model indicators was significantly associated with area under the curve of daytime salivary cortisol, DHEA, or C/D ratio. We found that effort, reward, effort-reward imbalance, and OC had little influence on daytime variation patterns, levels, or amounts of salivary HPA-axis-related hormones. Thus, our hypotheses were not supported.
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